|nutritional information (per serving)|
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|amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Saturated Fat 32g||161%|
|dietary fiber 2g||8th %|
|Total sugar 13g|
|Vitamin C 14 mg||69%|
|Calcium 447 mg||34%|
|iron 6 mg||35%|
|Potassium 482 mg||10%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) indicates how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories per day is used for general nutritional advice.|
(Nutritional information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)
Steeped in tradition, this dish full of soothing flavors will soon be your (and your loved ones') favorite meal. It's the egg dish that proves eggs are welcome at every meal of the day. I was introduced to this dish while cooking in the Mediterranean, and it quickly became my go-to dish, as an upscale brunch, or as a treat for myself when I needed some comfort. I love how easy it is to make and still has the wow factor, especially when I have a large group to feed.
What is Çilbir?
Çilbir, pronounced “Chil-Burr”, is one of the most popular breakfast recipes in Turkish cuisine. It's simply poached eggs on a bed of garlic yogurt, drizzled with a spiced butter sauce. Make sure you use Greek yogurt instead of plain plain yogurt as this is meant to have a thick spread for the bottom of the dish. I don't see much of a difference in using full-fat yogurt versus non-fat yogurt, other than that you get a richer mouthfeel from full-fat yogurt. Just make sure it's Greek! You could even use labneh diluted with a little more lemon juice.
For the sauce, some use olive oil or a mixture of olive oil and butter, but the traditional recipe calls for a heavily flavored butter. Butter offers a rich mouthfeel and we take it a step further by cooking it until the milk solids are toasted, also known as brown butter or beurre noisette.
Aleppo pepper or pul biber, a red chili flake common in the Middle East, is the butter's main ingredient. It's milder than the red chili flakes common in North America, with earthy undertones and a slight sweetness. Its presence is to add layers of flavor rather than heat, but you can add more if you want a spicier twist.
How to serve Çilbir
Although there's a lot going on in this dish, I love to top off the dish with a side of toasted bread. It's the perfect vessel to hold that last delicious drop of eggs, yoghurt and butter. Look for simit, pide, Turkish bagels, or sourdough at your local bakery. I recommend slightly reheating the bread in the oven to soften it.
All I ask of you is don't skimp on the dill. You can top the cilbir with a herb mix, but dill is key. Not only does it lean into the tradition of this dish, but its citrusy and slightly sweet, earthy undertones also make it a dreamy pairing with the spice and spiciness of the surrounding flavor notes.
“For those of you who want to really spice up your morning eggs. Being an egg fanatic myself, I highly recommend these. Even though it's three separate components, it's definitely worth it.” –Noah Vellush-Rogers
For the yogurt spread:
1 Cup plain Greek yogurtroom temperature
1 clove Garlic
1 teaspoon Lemon peel
2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh dill
1/4 teaspoon fine Salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the spiced butter sauce:
4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsalted butterto cut in pieces
1 tablespoon soil Aleppo chili pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
For the poached eggs:
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or lemon juice
4 large eggs
Fresh Herbssuch as dill, mint or parsley, for serving
Flaky sea-saltTo serve
Turkish bagels or bread to serve
Gather the ingredients.
Prepare the yoghurt spread: Place the yoghurt in a medium-sized bowl. Grate the garlic directly into the yogurt. Add lemon zest, juice, dill, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Put aside.
Prepare the Seasoned Butter Sauce: In a small saucepan or skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat, tossing the skillet occasionally, until the butter turns light golden and foamy (about 2 minutes).
Continue cooking the butter until most of the bubbles are gone, it smells nutty and is a light brown hazelnut color (about 3 more minutes). Remove from stove. Stir in Aleppo pepper and cumin. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
Poach the Eggs: Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Stir in the vinegar. Reduce the water to a simmer (about 180 to 190 F).
In separate small bowls, ramekins, or measuring cups, crack one egg. Gently dip the egg into the boiling water, holding the bowl just above the surface of the water so the outside of the egg will firm up as you slide it in.
Poach until egg whites are set and yolks are firm but still soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with kitchen paper. Repeat with the remaining eggs.
To assemble, divide the yoghurt between two shallow bowls or plates, making a well in the middle. Crack in two poached eggs at a time, then top with as much spiced butter sauce as you like. Sprinkle with herbs and sea salt flakes. Serve with Turkish bagels or toasted bread to bring out all the flavors.
- Make sure your yogurt is at room temperature, because cold yogurt will disrupt the warm, cozy atmosphere of the dish. If you don't have time to bring the yogurt to room temperature, you can gently heat it over a water bath. Be careful though, as the yogurt will curdle if overheated.
- If you cut the butter into chunks, it will melt and brown more evenly.
- Butter burns easily, so don't run away when making your sauce. Your goal is a light brown butter sauce – it will continue to cook and color as soon as you remove it from the heat.
- A light-colored pan will help you see the butter more clearly as it begins to color.
- By adding acid to the water, the poached eggs will hold their shape as they cook.
- Before cooking, allow the eggs to come to room temperature to make them easier to crack.
- Placing the eggs in a bowl or measuring cup before adding them to the saucepan will prevent eggshells from falling into the water. You can gently lower the egg into the water to control its shape.
- When boiling the eggs, the water should be simmering, not boiling. If the water is too strong, the eggs will break. However, if the water isn't hot enough, the egg could fall apart before it's cooked.
- You can poach two eggs at a time, but no more to avoid overcrowding.
- You can make the yogurt ahead of time and store it in an airtight container for up to a week. Take the yogurt out 20-30 minutes before serving to allow it to come to room temperature.
- We do not recommend making the butter sauce or eggs ahead of time as they taste best that day.
This is an extremely versatile dish that you can customize to suit your tastes or the preferences of your guests. Use your favorite spices or any additional ingredients you have on hand to spice things up even more:
- The yogurt should serve as the lively base for this dish, so avoid drowning it out with flavors. You could use a different citrus fruit or herbs here.
- You can also use garlic powder instead of fresh garlic. Adjust the spices to your liking.
- While the poached eggs make this an elegant brunch option, I love making it with soft-boiled eggs, as the set egg whites get a bit more consistency while you still enjoy the muggy, runny yolk.
- I love adding a touch of umami to the butter sauce, like bouillon powder, chopped anchovies or anchovy paste, miso, porcini mushroom powder, or even a dash of soy sauce.
- You can substitute 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes mixed with 1/2 teaspoon paprika powder for the Aleppo pepper if you can't find it at your local grocery store.
- Other garnish options include toasted sesame seeds, chilli crunch, feta, or cherry tomatoes (tomato confit is preferred).
How to store it
This dish is best served immediately while everything is warm. So we don't recommend saving it for later.