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Recipe: Çılbır – Turkish poached eggs

There are records of çılbır being eaten by Ottoman sultans as far back as the 15th century…

Çılbır, pronounced “chulburr” is a Turkish dish of poached eggs with yogurt. 

For those who are hesitant at the thought, çılbır is a revelation and a complete sensation, a dish that shouldn’t be judged until tried.

Try this recipe from Nigella Lawson.

Turkish poached eggs (Çılbır)


Serves: 2

200 grams greek yoghurt (suzme yoghurt)
1 clove garlic (peeled and minced)
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
2 x 15ml tablespoons unsalted butter
1 x 15ml tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper / Turkish red pepper flakes (pul biber)
2 large eggs (fridge-cold)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
a few fronds of fresh dill (chopped)


Fill a wide-ish saucepan (I use one of 22cm diameter) with water to come about 4cm up the sides of the pan. Put it on the heat and cover it so that it heats up faster. Line a large plate with some kitchen roll, get out a slotted spoon and put both near the pan now.

Now fill another pan – on which a heatproof bowl can sit comfortably – again with water to come 3–4cm up the sides, and bring to a boil. Put the yoghurt in the bowl, stir in the garlic and salt, and sit it on top of this pan, making sure the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Stir it until it gets to body temperature and has the consistency of lightly whipped double cream. Turn off the heat and leave the bowl as it is, over the pan.

Melt the butter gently in a small pan until it is just beginning to turn a hazelnut brown (this is why, in classic French cuisine, it’s known as beurre noisette), but make sure it’s not actually burning. Turn the heat off under the pan, then stir in the olive oil, followed by the beautiful red pepper flakes; it will foam up fierily. Leave to one side while you get on with the eggs. And this is when you should be thinking of putting the toast on.

When you are ready to poach the eggs, crack the first egg into a fine-mesh strainer suspended over a small bowl, then lift it up a little and swirl gently for about 30 seconds, letting the watery part of the white drip into the bowl. Gently tip the egg into a small cup or ramekin and, aiming for the white, add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice; I know everyone else says vinegar, but I just don’t like the taste of it on the egg, and the lemon does the trick just the same. Proceed as above with the second egg.

When the poaching water is just starting to simmer, take a cup or ramekin in each hand and gently slide in the eggs, one on each side of the pan. Turn the heat right down so there is no movement in the water whatsoever, and poach the eggs for 3–4 minutes until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny. Transfer the eggs with your slotted spoon to the paper-lined plate to remove any excess water. 

Divide the warm creamy yoghurt between two shallow bowls, top each with a poached egg, pour the peppery butter around and slightly over the yoghurt, scatter the chopped dill on top, and eat dreamily, dipping in some thick well-toasted bread as you do so.

Serve with

Chunkily sliced and toasted sourdough or other bread.

Photo by Jonathan Lovekin

Source: Nigella’s Recipes

Featured photograph courtesy of Lezzet

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