Cilbir (Turkish Eggs in Yogurt)
Cilbir (pronounced “chil-ber”) is a Turkish dish of poached eggs over garlicky yogurt with spiced clarified butter. You eat it with a generous side of crusty bread, which functions as a delicious utensil. It may sound like an odd combination to we lowly peasants, but this rich and wholesome dish has actually been scarfed up by hungry Ottoman sultans for hundreds of years- historians trace it back as far as the 15th century! I googled this and I totally believe it because I’ve eaten it and felt pretty darned royal afterward.
You can enjoy this for breakfast or dinner. Whenever you eat it, when you scoop this onto your crusty bread, you’re going to find that the suppleness of the poached egg meets the creaminess of the Greek yogurt to create the silkiest, most luxurious texture imaginable. The richness of the runny yolk is offset perfectly by the tang of the yogurt and the subtle, nuanced spice of the butter. It is, without a doubt, one of the most comforting foods I have ever eaten. Not to mention beautiful!
I usually go for two large chicken eggs per plate. On the day I shot this, my husband had gifted me with two gigantic, fresh duck eggs from the farmers market (isn’t he something?), which you see here. I don’t know if it was the freshness of the eggs or if the duck-ness makes a difference, but they poached just marvelously!
Cilbir is pretty much everything I want this blog to be about: humble, accessible ingredients combining in creative ways. I want to promote simple recipes that wow and satisfy, and I think this nails it! I hope you’re intrigued!
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 c. full fat Greek yogurt, at room temperature
- 1/2 t. tahini
- 4 T. unsalted butter
- 1/2 t. paprika
- 1/8 t. turmeric
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 4 large eggs
- Crusty bread, sliced thick
- 1 T. olive oil
- Finely mince 1 clove garlic and sprinkle with salt. Use the flat of your knife to mash the garlic and salt into a paste (alternatively, use a microplane to grate the garlic into a paste, then add salt). Scrape into a bowl and add the yogurt and tahini. Stir well to combine, then put aside.
- Melt butter over medium-low heat in a small saucepan. Add the paprika, turmeric, cayenne, and a pinch of salt and stir. Once butter begins to sizzle, remove from heat and pour into a small bowl or pyrex measuring cup. Set aside.
- Heat a large pot of water to boiling. Reduce heat to medium to bring water to a gentle simmer. Poach the eggs until firm whites/runny yolks. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove eggs from the pot and place in a bowl of warm water until ready to serve.
- Turn on your broiler. Lightly brush one side of each slice of bread with olive oil and then place on a baking sheet. Broil the bread until toasted and golden brown.
- Cut second garlic clove in half, and then rub the cut side of one of the halves onto the surface of the toasts.
- To serve, plop the yogurt onto two plates or shallow bowls. Spread out slightly then top with the eggs. Drizzle or spoon the butter over everything, but avoid picking up the spices that have settled on the bottom.