Çılbır aka “Turkish eggs” is a simple yet mind blowing poached egg dish originating from Turkey. The gooey poached eggs are nestled on a bed of garlicky yogurt and smothered in melted butter seasoned with Aleppo pepper… Dig in, and you are instantly teleported to eggy heaven!
I’ve been admiring this tempting looking egg dish on the Instagram account of the incredibly talented Ros for years. She posts gorgeous photos of this dish once or twice per month! Yet for some reason I never got around to trying Turkish eggs myself until last summer. Needles to say, after that initial try these poached eggs have become a staple in our home! Turkish eggs are especially heavenly on slow weekend mornings, but they have also saved many busy remote working days in this household 🙂
Turkish eggs = a poached egg recipe from Turkey, with roots all the way down to the 15th century (thanks, Wikipedia). I’m not surprised the recipe has been around for such a long time. It’s SO GOOD, so quick and so simple! If you have yogurt, eggs, butter, chili flakes and garlic (all essential pantry items at our house), that’s pretty much all you need!
If I’ve understood correctly, the traditional seasoning for the butter (or oil) is Aleppo pepper. Considering the ongoing crisis in Syria, finding Aleppo pepper isn’t easy. You might have better luck looking for it with its Turkish name Pul Biber instead! The flavor of Aleppo pepper / Pul Biber is mildly hot, fruity, earthy, tomatoey, a bit tangy and ever so slightly salty. It’s one of my favorite red pepper alongside the Korean gochugaru and I use it A LOT. If you can’t find Pul Biber either, try mixing some paprika (or smoked paprika… yuuuum…) with mild chili flakes or a pinch of cayenne. (This site actually recommends substituting Aleppo pepper with Mexican ancho chilies.)
A recipe that’s been around for half a millennia most certainly doesn’t need any changes. However, since I am a huge fan of golden crispy garlic, I do add sliced garlic to the pan as I melt the butter. I also like to bulk up my bowl with some blanched spinach, if I have it around the house. But only for the sake of adding some greens to my diet!
Turkish eggs are made with poached eggs. If you’ve been avoiding making poached eggs, I strongly urge you to finally give them a go! I promise it’s not that difficult 🙂
How I poach my eggs:
- I sieve the egg. When you pass the egg through a sieve, you get rid of the watery thin part of the egg white. This part creates those wispy strands of egg white around the poached egg, that I personally dislike. If you don’t feel like straining your eggs, you can of course also just pick out those strands before serving. If you don’t mind them, don’t bother to do even that.
- I add vinegar in the poaching water. Vinegar helps the egg to coagulate faster, so there’s less danger of the yolk breaking and ruining the egg. The amount one should add seems to however change from recipe to recipe – and some say not to add vinegar at all. This article says that vinegar makes the whites set too quick, so that they become chalky. I have not made a side by side comparison (at least yet) so I can’t say much about this! I personally don’t taste the vinegar in my poached eggs – so I don’t mind adding it. Nor do my poached eggs feel chalky 🙂
- I don’t salt the poaching water. why should I – I can salt my eggs upon serving them!
- I use the freshest of eggs. The fresher the egg, the more solid the egg white!
- If I have many to feed, I poach the eggs in advance. Yes, you can lower your stress levels and poach the eggs in advance! Poach them as normal, and cool the eggs down in a bowl of ice water. You can then store the poached eggs in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. When you want to eat your poached eggs, you just warm them up in some hot water for a couple of minutes.
So… in my opinion, you really don’t need any cling film pouch tricks. Just use fresh eggs and pay attention to them as you poach them! In fact, I think the only way to mess poached eggs up is to forget to set the timer. I mean, who wants hard yolks in their poached eggs?
Turkish eggs aka çılbır
- a big pot
- a little pot
- small sieve
- a timer
- a slotted spoon
- 50 g butter ( organic)
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 2-3 tsp Pul Biber / Aleppo pepper (or (smoked) paprika mixed with a pinch of cayenne pepper or ground up ancho chili)
- 300 g Turkish yogurt (full fat)
- salt and freshly cracked black pepper ( to taste)
- 2-4 fresh organic eggs
- 3 tbsp vinegar (per liter of poaching water)
- 100 g fresh spinach (if you want!)
- 2 + sprigs of dill
- It takes me 15 minutes to make one portion of Turkish eggs - when the process is familiar, this is truly a quick dish to whip up. If you are making turkish eggs for the first time, I'd reserve 25-30 minutes for making two portions.
- Sometimes I make this as a snack with just one egg per bowl and a bit less garlic yogurt.
- Grate one clove of garlic to the yogurt and season to taste with salt. Divide in to two serving bowls and leave at room temperature while you prep other ingredients!
- If you are using spinach, remove the thick stalks and wash the spinach well. Boil some water in the small pot and blanch the spinach quickly, just enough for it to wilt. Drain well, squeezing out the water and divide into the bowls of yogurt.
- Heat water in the big pot to boiling point. I add around 10 cm of water to the pot so it's deep enough. If you are planning on poaching more than one egg at a time, make sure the pot is also quite wide, so there's room for more eggs. Drizzle the vinegar to the water (c. 3 tbsp per 1 liter of water). Lower the heat to a simmer and leave the pot covered to wait for poaching time.
- Put the Aleppo pepper / Pul Biber into a small heat proof bowl. Slice the remaining three cloves of garlic thinly. Put them in the little pot and add the butter. Turn the stove on to medium heat and start melting the butter. Once the butter is fully melted and is foaming away, keep an eye out for the garlic. As soon as you see the garlic slices getting color, pour the butter and garlic over the chili flakes. Stir and leave to wait for serving time!
- If you want to sieve the runny whites off, break your eggs one at a time and carefully sieve out the watery egg white. You can break (and sieve) all eggs in advance and put them in individual glasses or bowls to get ready for their warm bath, or prep one batch of eggs at a time. In any case, be careful not to break the yolks!
Poaching the eggs
- When all the prepping is done, it's time to start poaching! Check the temperature of the simmering water: water should be calmly bubbling; adjust heat if necessary.
- Make sure your timer is set and ready. Carefully drop an egg to the water and immediately set the timer - I poach my eggs 3-4 minutes for a perfectly soft runny yolk! You can swirl the water to create a vortex before adding the egg, if you are cooking your eggs one at a time. When the time is up, lift up the egg with a slotted spoon and place in the yogurt bowl. Repeat with the remaining of the eggs.
- If poaching eggs is familiar to you, I recommend poaching two eggs at a time. Prepare them as recommended above and add them in to the simmering water one behind the other. Set the timer, adding 30 seconds to the cooking time. Make sure your pot is filled deep with water and that it's wide enough for two eggs to cook at the same time!
Finishing the dish:
- When both bowls are filled with poached eggs, pour the garlicky chili butter on top of the eggs and garnish the bowls with a few sprigs of fresh dill. Season to taste with salt and freshly cracked black pepper and serve with a piece of crusty bread!