19 September 2013

Cilbir - Turkish Poached Eggs


I've been traveling in the Middle East, and in Lebanon/Syria/Turkey for almost 10 years now, and where did I discover this simple Turkish breakfast dish? In London, my friends. Last Christmas, in London, we stopped into one of the few open places in Seven Dials, Kopapa, the sort of bustling warm inviting restaurant that I dream about when in Algiers. I will admit what really sold me on this dish was the menu description, especially the whipped yogurt and spice butter. Whipped yogurt? That's more of a siren song to me than any poached egg ever will be.

Since then, I've learned that poached eggs in yogurt with spiced butter is actually a classic Turkish breakfast dish called Çilbir. And there are naturally tons of ways to make these dish, but really it's fairly simple. Poach some eggs, place in a bowl, top with good quality yogurt and some paprika-tinged butter, and there you have it. Even people in Montana are making it.

I've come up my own variation on this classic dish, which is simply to serve the whole thing over toast and eat it with a knife and fork. I know, it's terribly British, isn't it? But the toast lends a much needed crunch and oomph to the dish. I bet you could even arrange them on a platter at a brunch. (Of course, in the pictures here you don't see the toast version because if I wanted toastable bread I would have had to make it.) If you want a more classic version of the dish, a few sauteed pine nuts are also nice for some crunch.

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Çilbir - Turkish Poached Eggs with Yogurt
You want a thick not runny yogurt here, but I don't think you have to go full on Greek yogurt or labane here unless you want to. Really, whatever you like that's rich and tangy. Serves 2.

For the eggs:
2 eggs
water, vinegar

2 slices good toast
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt, the best quality you can find and preferably not fat free
4 tablespoons butter
one pinch of smoked paprika
a bit of dill or chives, optional, for serving

1. Beat the yogurt with a pinch of salt until smooth. Place the toast in the bottom of two shallow serving bowls.
2. Bring water in a medium-large pot to a low boil. Add in a splash of vinegar. Crack your eggs into ramekins or a bowl. With the handle of a wooden spoon, swirl the water to make a whirlpool. Drop one egg into the whirlpool to poach. When the egg white is solid but the yolk is still runny, scoop out the egg with a slotted spoon, let drain, and place on top of a piece of toast. Repeat with the second egg.
3. Spoon the yogurt over each egg. Heat the butter and paprika in a small pan and pour some spiced butter over each serving. If, desired, top with some dill/chives.


ginamused said...

Should the yogurt be chilled, room temperature, or warm when put on the eggs? Lovely photos, by the way.

Mercedes said...

Hi! Room temperature is optimal. However, I'm a lazy cook, so I usually find that if you take the yogurt out of the fridge first and stir it up, then by the time you've boiled water and poached eggs, the yogurt is room temperature enough. You just don't want it to be freezing cold. Thanks for the compliment!

wasloss said...

If possible you should buy turkish yoghurt. It tastes quite different.

wasloss said...

Preferably use turkish yoghurt. It tastes quite different.