This Turkish poached eggs recipe makes cilbir – more correctly çılbır, pronounced ‘chil-bir’ – a delicious Turkish brunch dish of runny eggs immersed in creamy garlic yoghurt, drizzled with buttery chilli oil, and garnished with fragrant fresh dill. A favourite of Ottoman sultans, çılbır can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or a snack.
If you enjoyed our Turkish scrambled eggs recipe for menemen last week, you’re going to love our latest edition of Weekend Eggs and this Turkish poached eggs recipe for cilbir or çılbır – runny poached eggs in garlic yoghurt, doused in chilli butter oil, and sprinkled with aromatic fresh dill. Dunk some toasted sourdough in the eggs and you’re in breakfast heaven.
If you’re dropping by for the first time in a bit, we recently rejuvenated Weekend Eggs, our series of quintessential breakfast dishes from around the world, which we launched with Grantourismo over a decade ago. We rebooted the series with Calabria’s take on ‘eggs in purgatory’ with spicy ’nduja, Thailand’s son-in-law eggs (fried soft-boiled eggs), the puffy Thai omelette kai jiaw, Cambodian steamed eggs, and Malaysia and Singapore’s half-boiled eggs served with kaya jam and toast.
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Turkish Poached Eggs Recipe with Garlic Yoghurt and Chilli Butter Oil for Cılbır
Runny eggs, creamy yoghurt, chilli oil, fresh dill, toasted sourdough… what’s not to love? That’s my wife’s idea of heaven. This Turkish poached eggs recipe makes Lara’s idea of the perfect breakfast. I’d go as far as to say that I think her biggest regret from all our travels through Turkey over the years was that she didn’t get to eat more çılbır for breakfast.
In fact, we didn’t see çılbır in the traditional Turkish breakfast spreads, which typically included menemen in our experience. Cılbır would be featured on the menu as a separate dish and when we investigated why, we learnt that our Turkish friends eat these poached eggs in garlic yoghurt for a weekend brunch or lunch at home rather than breakfast, as they don’t want to smell of garlic at work.
We have no such issues here in Siem Reap, where we’re currently in lockdown and staying at home. Nevertheless, instead of the usual cloves of fresh garlic that are whipped through the yoghurt for çılbır, I use garlic powder instead, which just needs to be stirred through, making an easy breakfast dish even simpler to pull together. And here are a few more tips…
Tips for Making this Cılbır Recipe for Turkish Poached Eggs
Just a few tips for making this Turkish poached eggs recipe for çılbır as this is a super simple recipe, with just a handful of steps: toasting your sourdough or Turkish bread, making the chilli butter oil, prepping the garlic yoghurt, poaching the eggs, and serving it up. Easy.
With runny eggs, creamy yoghurt and the chilli butter oil, this dish is just made for dunking. Regular readers will know that we love our sourdough – this Mediterranean sourdough with Kalamata olives, sweet red capsicum, rosemary, and thyme would go very nicely with this dish – however, Turkish bread would, of course, be perfect.
In Turkey, a thick yoghurt called süzme, which means ‘strained’, is used. If you’re not in Turkey and don’t have a specialist Turkish grocery shop nearby, then use Greek yoghurt or any thick creamy yogurt.
Some çılbır recipes call for several garlic cloves to be grated into the yoghurt. While we love our garlic, we find that overbearing, especially for a breakfast dish, which is why I prefer to stir through some garlic powder.
You’ll see chilli flakes on our Turkish poached eggs recipe ingredients list. In Turkey, pul biber is used. These flakes are made from Turkish red chilli peppers, which is similar to Aleppo pepper from Northern Syria. Sadly, we can’t get either here and use local chillies, however, any chilli flakes would work. Smoked paprika or sumac or even Korean gochugaru would all work.
The secret to a great çılbır is the ‘chilli butter oil’ – butter browned in a sauce pan over medium heat, to which you’ll add chilli flakes and virgin olive oil. I also add some of my homemade chilli oil, which is a cinch to make. I’m making a new batch this afternoon.
You could also use a Sichuan-style chilli oil, although I still recommend transferring some of that to a jar and adding plenty of whole dried chillies or chilli flakes. If you can’t dry your own, try Nguan Soon No 1 Hand Brand. This chilli-infused olive oil would also be wonderful.
Fresh dill was typically sprinkled on çılbır in Turkey, and we nearly always have some in the fridge, when we can get it, as Lara uses it in her Russian cooking. However, we’ve also spotted fresh mint sprinkled on this Turkish poached eggs dish.
Turkish Poached Eggs Cilbir Recipe
- 2 slices sourdough bread
- 2 eggs large
- 40 g butter
- 15 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 30 ml chilli oil
- 200 g Greek yoghurt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- fresh dill chopped finely
- Toast the sourdough bread.
- Put the eggs on to poach.
- Place the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and leave until it gently browns.
- Turn the heat off and stir in the olive oil, chilli oil and chilli flakes.
- Place the yoghurt in two serving bowls and stir in the garlic powder.
- Place the poached eggs gently onto the yoghurt, pour the chilli butter over the yoghurt, distributing evenly between each bowl, and sprinkle with salt and fresh dill.
Please do let us know in the comments below if you make this Turkish poached eggs recipe for çılbır. We’d love to know how the dish turns out for you, and if you enjoy it we’d love a recipe rating.
Hi Terence and Lara, long time lurker here from Manly since you did your 1 year world trip all those years ago. Where has the time gone??? Just a note to say how glad we are that you started the weekend eggs series again. We loved making those recipes and travelling vicariously through you. Made your eggs recipes many times over in the years since. Please publish an eggs book! Made the mushies on toast yesterday and they were so delish. Made these poached eggs today and they were so heavenly as you say. Didn’t have Turkish or Aleppo peppers so used a mix of ordinary chilli flakes and paprika and worked a treat. Looking forward to next weeks eggs. Keep em coming!
Lara Dunston says
Hi Lorraine, we love it when our lurkers say hi, too :) Delighted to know you’ve been cooking with us over the years – over a decade now! – and thrilled to bits you’re loving the latest recipes. Terence is working on an eggs cookbook actually. He started it a long time ago and was encouraged by chef Rene Redzepi, who said he’d buy it. Something always got in the way of the project, but he’s recently began recipe testing for it again so lots more recipes from our favourite places around the world coming soon. Thanks so much for taking the time to drop by. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!