Cilbir is a delicious Turkish breakfast made with poached eggs and a flavorful yogurt sauce, ideal for a hearty brunch.
I love having eggs for breakfast and it's amazing how versatile they are, especially in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines. From Italian baked eggs to yeralma yumurta (potatoes and eggs) and Persian spinach and eggs, we love having flavorful egg dishes for breakfast and brunch! This Turkish poached eggs recipe called cilbir is another favorite Mediterranean breakfast I hope you'll enjoy!
What is Cilbir?
Cilbir (pronounced Chilbir) is a traditional Turkish breakfast that's made with poached eggs and a delicious garlicky yogurt sauce. It is topped with a spicy butter and pul biber (similar to Aleppo pepper) concoction and pairs well with a slice of crusty bread. Just like menemen, it can be found in nearly all regions of Turkey.
Why is this recipe special?
Here's a few reasons!
- The depth and complexity of flavors. You'll experience so many distinct flavors in each bite!
- It's served with a spicy yogurt sauce that's flavored with dill and garlic. You can't really go wrong with that.
- My recipe was an award winner in a cooking competition sponsored by the American Dairy Association in October 2018. Seriously!
I went on a very fun and educational tour with the American Dairy Association in October 2018, which I documented on my Instagram Stories. We visited several dairy farms and learned a lot about dairy and its products. At the end of the tour, we stopped at a cooking school in upstate New York where I made this recipe and took home the trophy for "Best Use of Yogurt"!
Cilbir is a perfect example of how yogurt can shine in a savory dish. While many in the West associate yogurt with sweet entrees and snacks like berry-infused parfaits, as you travel throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East you'll find that yogurt is more often than not considered a savory ingredient.
This simple recipe only requires a few ingredients:
- Eggs - I usually use two eggs per person but you can do fewer or more.
- Plain yogurt - I love using whole milk yogurt for this recipe because it's creamy and flavorful.
- Fresh or dried dill - For freshness and flavor, we add a bit of dill to the yogurt.
- Garlic - Don't skip! My preference is to add at least 1 large clove of garlic per person. Keep in mind that garlic powder won't work for this recipe.
- Salt and pepper
- Butter - The combination of melted butter and pul biber brings this dish together.
- Pul biber - Similar to Aleppo pepper, pul biber is a red pepper that has a kick but is not too spicy.
Poach the eggs
Poaching eggs is a basic skill that might look intimidating at first. Trust me, it's pretty simple if you follow a few easy steps:
- Bring water to a simmer in a large pot or a deep pan with a wide mouth.
- Break the eggs in separated small bowls.
- Put the eggs into the simmering water and, using a spoon, help the whites merge together with the eggs. It's okay if some parts of the whites separate.
- Cook for three minutes and take the eggs out using a slotted spoon and place them on a kitchen paper towel to dry.
There are other methods for making poached eggs like stirring the water like a whirlpool before adding the eggs. I simply cook the eggs in the simmering water and use a spoon to bring the whites together. It's important not to overcrowd the pot or pan, so poach one or two eggs at a time.
Make the yogurt garlic sauce
Once the eggs are poached and start to cool, make the yogurt sauce by mixing the yogurt with chopped fresh or dried dill and minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper and spread it in a shallow bowl or a plate.
Make the spicy butter and assemble
Melt the butter in a small sauce pan and add the pul biber to it. Lower the heat and stir slowly until the butter has become dark orange. Place the poached eggs on the yogurt sauce and top with the melted butter.
Can I make this recipe ahead of time?
You can definitely make the garlic yogurt sauce ahead of time and refrigerate until you're ready to use it. It's best to poach the eggs right before serving and make the spicy butter fresh as well.
Looking for more Turkish recipes?
Cilbir (Turkish Eggs)
- 4 eggs cold
- 1 cup Plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoon Fresh dill chopped (See Notes)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- 3 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
- Bring a pot of water to boil. Lower the heat and let the water simmer.
- Break the eggs in separate bowls and place two of them in simmering water.
- Using a spoon, bring the whites onto the eggs and let them cook for about three minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, take out the eggs and place them on paper towels on a plate and let them dry.
- Discard the water and fill the pot again. Repeat the steps and poach the other two eggs.
- In a bowl, mix yogurt, dill, garlic, black pepper, salt and paprika.
- Divide the yogurt between two shallow bowls.
- Top the yogurt sauce with two poached eggs.
- Melt the butter in a pan and add Aleppo pepper to the butter.
- Lower the heat and stir slowly so the butter turns deep orange.
- Pour the butter over eggs and serve with toasted crusty bread.