Among Turkey's many put-an-egg-on-it dishes—from kiymali yumurta, a mix of ground beef and spices with eggs cracked over it, to sucuklu yumurta, a spicy beef sausage covered with fried eggs—our favorite for a quick weeknight dinner is menemen, a spicy dish of eggs cooked in a chunky tomato-based sauce.
It is Turkey's answer to the Middle East and North Africa's shakshuka, with an important difference. While shakshuka calls for cracking the eggs into divots spooned into a rich, thick sauce, then poaching them whole, in menemen the eggs are stirred in, giving it the look and texture of loose scrambled eggs.
There are many variations across Turkey, but at its most basic it starts with a sauce of sautéed tomatoes, onions and green chilies seasoned with Aleppo pepper, a fruity, mildly spicy Syrian blend of coarsely ground dried chilies and bell peppers. More elaborate versions might include eggplant, black olives or handfuls of chopped fresh herbs.
Eggs are then stirred in, covered and cooked over low until just set. Typically served in a two-handled copper skillet called a sahan, menemen is eaten similar to shakshuka—with bread rather than silverware. Hunks of simit, a doughy ring coated in sesame seeds, or gunluk, a crispy, torpedo-shaped loaf with a fluffy interior, are used to scoop up the rich, yolky mixture.
At Milk Street, we kept the bold flavors used in Turkey, but adapted the dish to be lighter and faster. Poblano peppers—which stand in for the traditional sivri biber variety used in Turkey—are combined with scallions, garlic and Aleppo pepper (red pepper flakes can be substituted). Off heat, raw tomatoes and briny capers are mixed in, which keeps the dish feeling fresh and balances its flavor.
To speed up the dish, we then transferred the sauce out of the pan and scrambled the eggs alone in olive oil (which we favor over butter for the lightest, fluffiest texture). The eggs then are served topped with the pepper mixture. A final crumble of feta cheese adds piquancy and creaminess that tames the heat of the dish, while fresh dill lightens it.