Sometimes nothing beats simple.
Çılbır is one of those culinary rags-to-riches dishes. Originally a simple breakfast staple of Eastern Turkey, çılbır is a humble and incredibly tasty dish of poached eggs in yoghurt dating back to early Ottoman times. At some point, Aleppo butter was added and this is what we know as çılbır today.
But while the preparation is quick and simple the resulting flavours are not. The flavours and textures melt together seamlessly for an incredible depth of flavour, especially if you’re having a nice piece of sourdough bread or toast on the side. No wonder brunch restaurants around the world are adding this to their menus alongside the more famous avocado sourdough toast and shakshuka.
While the few ingredients means care should be taken for each ingredient – choose a good quality yoghurt and fresh eggs – the key to a good çılbır is in many ways in the butter. Not only does it add a splash of colour – the pul biber (mild Turkish red pepper flakes also known as Aleppo pepper) and butter also bring a superb depth of flavour. If you can’t find pul biber, substitute smoked or regular paprika. It won’t be exactly the same but also very delicious. Garlic is often added to the yoghurt; I find it too much for an early-in-the-day sort of meal but you may of course do as you please. Serves two for breakfast, brunch or lunch with fresh or toasted sourdough or regular bread.
Turkish eggs with yoghurt and Aleppo butter (Çılbır)
- 4 eggs
- 3 tbsp butter
- 2 tsp pul biber/Aleppo pepper or smoked or regular paprika (with a pinch of chili flakes or cayenne pepper, if you liker)
- 200 g yoghurt
- Poach the eggs. This is how I do it: Bring plenty of water to a boil. Add a splash of vinegar and swirl with a spoon until you have a mini maelstrom. Crack the eggs into the swirling water and leave to simmer until firm on the outside but with a very runny yolk, 3-4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon.
- Meanwhile, make Aleppo butter by melting butter in a small pan or pot on medium/low heat. Add pul biber or paprika, stir well and take off the heat.
- Serve the eggs on top of the yoghurt, topping with Aleppo butter and a little salt (I use flaky sea salt). Serve immediately.
- Add a small garlic clove, crushed to a paste with a little salt with a pestle and mortar, to the yoghurt for a slightly different flavour.
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