Turkish Eggs (Çilbir) are a surprisingly simple and flavourful breakfast. In 10 minutes you can have a satsifying dish on the table – herby, garlicky yogurt topped with creamy quick-scrambled eggs rich with butter and sprinkled with a touch of peppery zing. Add your favourite flatbread or toast and you’ve got a filling breakfast or lunch to make your taste buds happy.
This month for our Eat the World recipe challenge we head to exotic, colourful Turkey, considered the bridge between Europe and Asia. With one foot in each of those continents it is an intriguing mix of the vastly differing cultures of East and West. Modern meets ancient. Cosmopolitan meets mystery. Culture meets gastronomy.
Turkish cuisine is considered one of the major world cuisines, right up there with French, Chinese, and Italian. The vast diversity, agricultural richness, and Turkey’s central location along historical spice routes combine to produce a food culture that is rich and complex. Six centuries of Ottoman rule, as well as influences from all its neighbours, have provided a huge range of gastronomic variety. Fresh vegetables and fruits, rice and bulgur, legumes, bread, yogurt, lamb, fish, spices, nuts, oils, tea, and coffee are an important part of Turkish food culture. In fact, Turks are the highest per capita consumers of tea and bread in the world! (An average of 7 pounds of tea leaves per person are used per year and 440 pounds of bread per person are consumed each year!)
Breakfast (kahvaltı, meaning ‘before coffee’) is a popular meal, an elaborate ritual, in Turkey, especially on weekends. Friends and families come together to socialize and share in a vast array of dishes, visiting and eating over many hours. Tea is the main drink of choice with Turkish breakfast, and some type of bread is always served.
I love the idea of those kinds of breakfasts, and was drawn to the simple dish of Turkish eggs in a garlicky yogurt, called Çilbir.
Wow. Utterly flavourful. Divine.
I first came across the recipe for these Turkish Eggs in one of my cookbooks (‘Turkish Flavours, Recipes from a Seaside Café’ by Sevtap Yüce). She lists a simple recipe of eggs lightly scrambled in plenty of butter and stirred into a garlicky yogurt, then scooped up and eaten with flatbreads. I made the dish her way and we were hooked. However when I did more online research, I found that the eggs in Çilbir are more often poached, the yogurt also contains fresh herbs, and the butter is combined with Aleppo pepper and made into a separate sauce to drizzle over them. Well, that isn’t quite so simple any more.
And I’m all about simple for breakfast.
Poached eggs are delicious, but not always quick or foolproof. So I’ve stuck with the easy way that Sevtap Yüce quick-scrambles the eggs in lots of butter, omitting the need for a separate butter sauce, and I added a few fresh herbs to the garlicky yogurt (those are optional, it’s still delicious without them, too). I simply sprinkled the Aleppo pepper over the finished eggs (you can substitute paprika and a pinch of chili flakes) and drizzled on a little more melted butter. We’ve been eating our Turkish eggs with toasted home-made gluten-free buckwheat bread, but your favourite flatbread or pita bread would be great, too.
This is one satisfying and flavour-loaded breakfast or light lunch dish. Serve it with a few cured black olives and chunks of tomato for a Turkish touch, and have a big pot of strong black tea on the side.
How to Make Turkish Eggs in 10 Minutes?
- 2 minutes – Make up a bowl of garlic yogurt – mince, press, or grate a small clove of garlic into some Greek yogurt. Add a pinch of salt, and some fresh herbs if you like (frozen dill works fine here, too).
- 3 minutes – Melt a big knob of butter in a non-stick skillet, break in some eggs, and stir them a few times with a fork til they are just set. Don’t trouble yourself too much – you still want separate streaks of whites and yolks to show.
- 2 minutes – Divide the yogurt on two plates, pile the eggs on top. Sprinkle with Aleppo pepper (mild red pepper flakes) or paprika and chili flakes. You can melt a bit more butter in the warm skillet and drizzle that overtop if you wish for even more lusciousness.
- 3 minutes. Toast some bread or warm some flatbreads, brew a pot of tea. Cut up a tomato or just add a few cherry tomatoes to the plates. Add a few black olives.
- Breakfast is served.
Put on some Turkish music, bring out a colourful tablecoth, and enjoy a leisurely breakfast or brunch.
* * * * *
Turkish Eggs in Garlic Yogurt
- 1 cup (240gms) Greek yogurt, at room temperature
- 1 small clove garlic, or half a medium clove
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh or frozen dill or fresh mint, chopped optional
- ¼ cup (55gms) salted butter
- 4 large eggs + a pinch of salt
- sprinkling of aleppo pepper or smoked paprika + cayenne or chili pepper flakes
- your favourite flatbreads (or toast) to serve, gluten-free, if necessary
- a few black olives and tomato or cucumber chunks, optional
- Make the garlic yogurt: Put the yogurt into a bowl. Smush the garlic using a garlic press or grate it on a microplane grater into the yogurt (or mince it very finely). Stir in the salt and chopped fresh herbs, if using. Divide the garlic yogurt between two bowls or rimmed plates, spreading it into a circle in the center of each plate.
- Melt the butter in a non-stick skillet over medium heat until it's bubbling. Crack in the eggs, add a pinch of salt, and stir them around with a spatula until they are just set, leaving large streaks of the whites and yolks not mixed together.
- Pile half of the scrambled eggs on top of each of the garlic yogurt portions. Sprinkle with aleppo pepper (or a pinch of smoked paprika and a light sprinkle of cayenne or chili pepper flakes).
- Serve with warmed flatbreads or toast (gluten free, if necessary) and a few black olives and tomato wedges on the side.
- Recipe adapted from 'Turkish Flavours, Recipes from a Seaside Café' by Sevtap Yüce.
- If raw garlic bothers you, sauté the minced garlic in the butter for 30 seconds before adding the eggs, instead of stirring it into the yogurt.
- Use only one egg per person if you'd like a lighter breakfast.
- If making this dish for children, omit the Aleppo pepper and just add a sprinkle of sweet paprika.
- Frozen dill works great in this recipe (dried dill is lacking in flavour). When buying a bunch of dill, you often have a good amount left over. Make sure it is well dried, chop it, and put it into a ziptop freezer bag. Freeze for up to 6 months. Use the chopped dill right from frozen.
Check out all the wonderful Turkish dishes prepared by fellow Eat the World members and share with #eattheworld. Click here to find out how to join and have fun exploring a country a month in the kitchen with us!
Magical Ingredients: Kumpir – Turkish Style Baked Potatoes
Amy’s Cooking Adventures: Turkish Simit Bread
A Day in the Life on the Farm: Pide Ekmek
Pandemonium Noshery: Sahanda Pirzola – Turkish Lamb and Tomatoes
Sneha’s Recipe: Keto Turkish Menemen – Scrambled Eggs In Tomato Sauce
Kitchen Frau: Çilbir – Turkish Eggs in Garlic Yogurt
Culinary Adventures with Camilla: Ekşili Balık – A Lemony Turkish Fish Stew Recipe
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Check out my past ‘Eat the World’ Recipe Challenge posts:
(in alphabetical order)
- Argentina: Red Chimichurri Sauce
- Australia: Anzac Biscuits (Crispy Oatmeal Cookies)
- Bangladesh: Chingri Masala (Shrimp Curry)
- Bulgaria: Patatnik (Savoury Potato and Cheese Pie)
- Cambodia: Noum Kong (Cambodian Rice Flour Doughnuts)
- China: Kung Pao Chicken
- Colombia: Pan de Yuca (Warm Cheese Buns)
- Ecuador: Pescado Encocado (Fish in Coconut Sauce)
- Egypt: Fava Beans and Feta
- England: Gluten Free Fish and Chips and Mushy Peas
- Ethiopia: Four Ethiopian Recipes for a Fantastic Feast
- Fiji: Spiced Sweet Potato and Banana Salad
- Finland: Lohikeitto (Creamy Salmon, Potato, and Dill Soup)
- France: Axoa d’Espelette (A Simple Stew from the Basque Country)
- Georgia: Charkhlis Chogi (Beets with Sour Cherry Sauce)
- Greece: Moussaka
- Guyana: Fried Tilapia in Oil & Vinegar Sauce (fish dish)
- Hungary: Túrós Csusza (Pasta Scraps with Cottage Cheese)
- India: Kerala Upma (Fluffy, Kerala Style Breakfast Upma Recipe)
- Iraq: Tepsi Baytinijan (Eggplant & Meatball Casserole)
- Ireland: Dublin Coddle (A tasty Sausage and Potato Stew)
- Israel: Cucumber, Feta, and Watermelon Salad
- Jamaica: Rice and Peas (Coconut Rice and Red Beans)
- Japan: Chawanmushi (Steamed Savoury Egg Custard)
- Kenya: Maharagwe with Ugali (Red Beans with Cornmeal Slice)
- Laos: Ping Gai (Lao Grilled Chicken Wings)
- Lesotho: Chakalaka & Pap (Veggie & Bean Stew with Cornmeal Polenta)
- Luxembourg: Stäerzelen (Buckwheat Dumplings)
- Mexico: Cochinita Pibil Tacos (Pit Barbecued Pig to Make in Your Oven)
- Netherlands: Boerenkool Stamppot (Kale-Potato Mash with Sausages & Pears)
- New Zealand: Classic Pavlova
- Poland: Polish Honey Cake
- Portugal: Tuna and Sardine Pâtés
- Puerto Rico: Piña Colada Cocktail
- Scotland: Cranachan (Raspberry, Whisky & Oat Cream Parfaits)
- Senegal: Mafé (Beef and Peanut Stew)
- Slovakia: Bryndzové Halušky (Potato Dumplings with Cheese & Bacon)
- Sudan: Peanut Butter Creamed Spinach & Peanut Meringue Cookies
- Sweden: Swedish Meatballs with Cream Gravy
- Switzerland (Christmas): Basler Leckerli Cookies
- Thailand: Shrimp Laksa (Khung)
- Trinidad & Tobago: Peanut Butter Prunes
- Ukraine: Buckwheat Kasha with Beef
- United States (Soul Food): Smothered Pork Chops
- Uruguay: Torta de Fiambre (Baked Ham & Cheese Sandwiches)
- Vietnam: Caramelized Pork Rice Bowls