Cilbir, or Turkish Eggs, is a delicious Turkish breakfast with poached eggs on a bed of garlic yogurt and topped with yummy chili butter. It is a very easy, healthy, and delicious savory breakfast option that can be made in 15 minutes!
This dish is also perfect to serve with some crusty bread, lemony asparagus, or a simple side salad.
Why you’ll love this recipe
I love sweet breakfasts, but a savory breakfast is almost always healthier and equally delicious. Eggs are filling too and it's easy to switch up what you serve with the cilbir.
It can be spicy, it can be mild. You can also regulate how garlicky the garlic yogurt sauce should be, so it's versatile. And who doesn't love a good runny yolk? Poached eggs always feel restaurant-like or hotel breakfast-like. And it's quite easy!
- Poached eggs are perfect for anyone who loves runny yolks. You can use soft-boiled or hard-boiled eggs if you want too, but the runny yolk is kind of part of the sauce on top of the garlic yogurt.
- Greek or Turkish yogurt is the base of the dish and is both healthy and creamy. Nothing is worse than a dry breakfast dish! It is also high in protein so it's filling. If you fancy a sweet yogurt bowl instead, I recommend this lemon chamomile honey yogurt bowl.
- Garlic: you can use dried, but fresh is how they do it, and it is also a fresher taste. Smash it with salt to make a fine paste, see recipe FAQs.
- Salt acts as an abrasive and helps the garlic to pulverize quickly. Also, salt is a flavor enhancer so you'll have to add it even if you decide to use dried garlic.
- Olive oil, go for a high-quality extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor. Yes, it matters!
- Freshly ground pepper to season the garlic yogurt sauce.
- Fresh or dried dill also adds flavor to the garlic sauce. You can omit this if you want, or you can use mint instead for a fresher flavor! Or both if you're feeling extra herby. And if you feel herby, I 100% recommend this herby green shakshuka.
- Butter along with chili flakes creates an extra layer of both flavor and heat to the dish. You can drizzle over as much or as little of the chili butter as you please, so it's very customizable too.
- (Aleppo) chili flakes for extra heat. In Turkey, they usually use the chili flakes pul biber, also known as Aleppo pepper, which is a relatively mild chili pepper. If you don't find it, use regular, spicier, chili flakes but reduce the amount used by at least half. I love Aleppo pepper because you can use so much of it so you can actually taste the mild, fruitiness of the pepper.
First, make the garlic yogurt sauce. Crush the garlic into a fine paste, and combine it with yogurt, dill, extra virgin olive oil, and freshly ground pepper. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Then poach the eggs. There are several ways to poach eggs, so you don't necessarily have to follow my way of doing it. If you don't know any way of doing it, read how I do it under recipe FAQs.
Meanwhile the eggs are poaching, make the chili butter. Melt butter and combine with chili flakes. As I mentioned in the ingredients lists, Aleppo chili flakes (Turkish chili flakes or pul biber) are milder than many other chili flakes and so you can double the amount you use.
Then it's time to assemble: Add garlic yogurt to the bottom of a bowl, add the poached eggs, and drizzle with chili butter. Then sprinkle with more salt and pepper if desired, and some fresh mint or dill.
If you want, serve the cilbir with vegetables like cucumber, tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, and some crusty bread.
The garlic yogurt sauce could be stored, and covered, in the fridge for about 3 days. The garlic flavor will intensify the longer it sits, but it will still be delicious. The poached eggs should be eaten immediately.
What are Turkish eggs?
You may have already guessed by now that Turkish eggs are poached eggs on top of a garlic yogurt sauce and topped with spiced, melted butter. It is known as cilbir in Turkey, or, Çılbır, which is pronounced chl-br.
How to poach eggs
As I mentioned in the step-by-step instructions, there are several ways to poach eggs. Here is my version: Boil water and add 1 tablespoon of vinegar.
Crack one egg open and pour it into a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl to let the loose egg whites drip. This makes the poached egg look prettier. Pour the egg into a small bowl or ramekin. The fresher the egg, the less loose egg white there will be.
When the water is boiling, reduce it to a simmer and make a whirlpool with a spoon, and carefully pour the egg in. If poaching two eggs, add the other egg right after the whites have encapsulated the yolk (about 5-10 seconds).
Let the egg(s) poach for about 3 minutes before taking them out with a slotted spoon. Let dry on a paper towel. I like to sprinkle a little salt and freshly ground pepper on top.
Greek vs. Turkish yogurt
You can use both Greek and Turkish yogurt for this recipe. However, Greek yogurt has been strained more to make it thicker. Greek yogurt can be made without any additional milk or cream, which makes it higher in protein.
Turkish yogurt is thinner, with a higher content of carbohydrates, calcium, and lactose. It is lower in fat than Greek yogurt but has a little more calories. It is also a little less sour than Greek yogurt.
According to Amande Yogurt, you can make Turkish yogurt taste like Greek by letting 1 cup Turkish yogurt + 1 tablespoon sugar sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. I have not tried this, but I'm intrigued.
I used Greek yogurt in these pictures, mostly because I wanted a thicker sauce. If you want a thinner sauce, go for Turkish yogurt.
How to crush garlic with a knife
Peel the clove of garlic and finely chop it. Sprinkle some coarse salt over the garlic. The salt acts as an abrasive and helps to pulverize the garlic quickly.
Now take the flat of the blade on the knife, and squash the garlic by pressing the blade down while you work your way across the pile of garlic.
Scrape up the garlic and place it in a pile again, and then run the flat of the blade over again. Repeat until the garlic is a fine paste.
Aleppo pepper substitutes
Aleppo pepper is a mild chili pepper compared to other chili peppers used for chili flakes. Thus, you can use twice as much as you normally would. This makes it possible to use a lot more so you can actually taste the delicious fruitiness of the pepper.
However, if you can't find it, just use regular chili flakes - but half the amount. Cayenne pepper is a normal substitute. You can use half cayenne and half sweet paprika too if you want to use the same amount as with Aleppo pepper.
Did you like this recipe? Here are more savory breakfasts I think you’d love:
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