Cilbir is a delicious Turkish breakfast made with poached eggs and a flavorful yogurt sauce, ideal for a hearty breakfast or 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 and shakshuka 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!
Table Of Contents:
What is Çılbır?
Çılbır (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, enjoyed by locals and tourists.
Çılbır 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.
Why is this recipe special?
In addition to being insanely delicious and easy to make, here are a few reasons to convince you to give this Turkish eggs and yogurt recipe a try!
- 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!
Ingredients and substitutions
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.
- 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.
How to make Turkish eggs
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.
- Using a large spoon, create a vortex in the water and then put the eggs into the simmering water. Help the whites merge together with the eggs using a spoon. 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.
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.
Tips to make the best Çılbır
- Don't overcrowd the pot: when poaching eggs, it's best to do one or maximum two at a time. Overcrowding the pot would result in whites all mixing together.
- Keep everything at room temperature: Cold yogurt would not go with the eggs, so in case you make the garlicky yogurt ahead of time, make sure to take it out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature before serving.
- Don't rush the butter: Let the butter melt slowly and make sure the heat is low when you add the Aleppo pepper or pul biber. You don't want the butter or the pepper flakes to burn.
Frequently asked questions
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.
Yes, you can use dairy free yogurt as long as it's not sweetened or flavored.
The closest alternative would be mild chili pepper flakes.
Yes, you can also substitute it with other herbs such as mint.
It's best to serve this dish immediately and not have leftovers. poached eggs won't do well in the fridge. If you have extra garlicky yogurt (without the eggs), store it in a container and refrigerate for up to a week.
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Cilbir (Turkish Eggs)
- 4 eggs cold
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt room temperature
- 2 tablespoon fresh dill chopped (See Notes)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tsp 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.
- 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.
- 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. Pour the flavored butter over eggs and serve immediately.
- You can use two teaspoons dried dill if fresh dill isn't available or just leave the herbs out entirely.
- Using high quality yogurt is key. I prefer using whole milk yogurt, but non-fat yogurt works too. You can also use any dairy free yogurt as long as it's not flavored.
- Using garlic powder instead of real garlic won't work in this recipe.
- You can serve cilbir with simit, pide or lavash.
- When poaching eggs, it's best to do one or maximum two at a time. Overcrowding the pot would result in whites all mixing together.
- Cold yogurt would not go with the eggs, so in case you make the garlicky yogurt ahead of time, make sure to take it out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature before serving.
- Let the butter melt slowly and make sure the heat is low when you add the Aleppo pepper or pul biber. You don't want the butter or the pepper flakes to burn.