If there’s a trend that defines the cuisine of the eastern region of Turkey it is simple dishes, with not too many ingredients but the right preparation. This breakfast delicacy is usually served on the same table with kavut, otlu peynir and all those other yummy dishes usually associated with the eastern province of Van.
What is Murtuğa?
Sometimes referred to as “ev helvası” meaning “home helva”, it is made out of butter and flour that are roasted together. While with helva you’d add syrup to the mix, here whisked eggs are introduced and, depending on your preferences, you can have a sweet version with honey and walnuts, or a savory one by adding cheese into the mix.
The similarity to the dish kavut is close but while that one can be traced back centuries, murtuğa is said to be the invention of war. The wars in question are the ones between Russia and the Ottoman empire in the early 19th century and with short breaks between till the early 20th century. The conflict in the eastern regions caused many to flee with only their clothes on their back and due to the sheer lack of ingredients this dish was made. (1) This theory of war as the origin is also listed in the official registry for the Turkish Patent and Trademark office, but without defining which exact wars are referred to. (2)
But like with many a dish that is this simple, it is only natural that it spread further and is consumed in different manners. The provinces Ağrı and Elazığ for example do not add eggs but consume roasted flour instead. Diyarbakırites calls their version of murtuğa “mirtoxe”, while some Kurdish people refer to the dish as “arxavk”, simply meaning omelette. This name is more of a general one and changes depending on what is added to the actual dish in the end.
Another version of this dish is called “gencirük” and is made with the kavut flour.
In the late 1940s, Van made breakfast cuisine their speciality with tables sprawling with a wide variety of dishes. This trend spread throughout Turkey over the years and many places offer “Van kahvaltısı” (Van breakfast). This obsession with breakfast led to a record in June 2014 with Van organizing the largest full breakfast attendance involving over 50,000 people. (3)
Obsession or not, Van has done its homework and got murtuğa licensed by the Turkish Patent and Trademark office in 2017, along with other dishes. (2)
Murtuğa: Simplicity for a yummy breakfast dish
- 120 gr flour
- 100 gr butter
- 1 egg
- pinch of salt
- Melt the butter in a pan of your choice and add the salt and flour it.
- With the help of a wooden spoon continuously stir this mixture until the flour starts to smell differently and starts to change its color.
- Whisk the egg in a separate bowl and gradually introduce it to the flour.
- Continue cooking and stirring for a minute and turn the heat off.
- Serve warm.
TipsIf you don’t want to cook your eggs to death you can turn off the heat when the flour changes color and let the heat of the pan and flour mixture cook the egg more gently.
The addition of honey with walnuts or cheese at the very end is entirely up to you but it can only be recommended.
Bibliography(1) İsmet Alpaslan, Ülkü Önal, Ağrı Bölgesi Karapapak Terekemelerin Yaptığı
Yemekler in “Uluslararası Karadeniz Havzası Halk Bilimi Araştırmaları Dergisi”, Issue 6, 2016 (2) https://ci.turkpatent.gov.tr/cografi-isaretler/detay/38298 (3) https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/largest-full-breakfast-(attendance)