What’s In A Name

Country of Origin – Turkey

So, what is Çilbir?

A Turkish comfort food of poached eggs served on a bed of garlic marinated yogurt garnished with a drizzle of pepper-infused melted butter.

The earliest archives on the dish date back to the 15th century, when the Çilbir was enjoyed by Ottoman Sultans.

The dish is extremely versatile. You could find it in a Turkish restaurant’s breakfast menu (especially in the winter months) or even as a hot mezze (appetizer) during lunch and dinner.

Our Connection

Nerede  (Where)Babaji – Dubai, UAE
Ne Zaman (When)
October, 2018

Winter was coming, which meant that the weather was about to get a whole lot better in Dubai. So, naturally, we went out for a meal.
It was quarter past 1 in the afternoon when we found ourselves standing in the atrium at City Walk, and so decided to dine at Babaji – your friendly neighbourhood Turkish restaurant.

There’s nothing like a warm meal on a cool, breezy day to set the tummy right, right? Even if it is room-temperature yogurt marinated in garlic. And that’s exactly what we got when we ordered for Çilbir!

Whether it was the interesting flavour combination, or the simplicity of the dish that prompted me to attempt to cook the dish for friends, it doesn’t matter. I’m certainly glad I did!


Difficulty: Intermediate Prep Time 10 mins Cook Time 30 mins Total Time 40 mins
Servings: 3
Best Season: Winter


"Fried? Scrambled? Boiled? Omelettes? Tired of the usual? How about poached? No? How about poached eggs over a bed of garlic yogurt and with a drizzle of pepper-infused melted butter? Sounds exciting, right? One Çilbir, coming right up!"



  1. Pour the yogurt in a large mixing bowl

  2. Add the garlic paste.6 Whisk until the garlic paste infuses completely into the yogurt

  3. Continue whisking until the garlic-infused yogurt softens and turns into a smooth batter.  Leave the yogurt to rest (in room temperature condition)8

  4. Pour the extra-virgin olive oil in a sauté pan. Turn the stove on a medium heat, and bring the oil to a warm simmer

  5. Sprinkle the chilli flakes, cayenne pepper, and red chilli powder7 into the sauté pan

  6. The olive oil, upon infusing with the pepper powders/flakes, will attain a reddish hue. Once it does, lower the heat to a minimum - just enough for the oil to keep warm while you poach the eggs

  7. Pour water into a deep saucepan - 3/4th of the way up - and bring it to a boil10

  8. Once the water starts to boil, reduce the heat down to a minimum, allowing the water to cool down to a warm and gentle simmer1

  9. Once the water is stable (minimum bubble formation), season the water with a pinch of salt4

  10. Carefully crack an egg into a small cup. Ensure that the yolk is whole

  11. Before dropping the egg into the saucepan, gently swirl the water using a spoon (creating a mini whirlpool). Whilst swirling, simultaneously pour the egg into the centre of the whirlpool5

  12. The egg white will envelope the yolk. Once it does, continue to poach the egg for a few minutes2 before scooping it out of the saucepan, with the help of a straining spatula3

  13. Repeat the same poaching process for the rest of the eggs
  14. To serve (per serving) - Pour a few tablespoons of the garlic yogurt into a serving bowl; place two poached eggs over the yogurt, in the centre; drizzle the warm chilli-infused olive oil on and around the eggs; and garnish with fresh coriander leaves

  15. Serve warm with a slice of Pita Bread/Arabic Khubz/Toasted Bread


1. Ensure that the water is brought to a warm simmer before pouring the egg in. If the water is too hot, the yolk will separate and the egg will not poach.

2. The timing for a poached egg depends on how runny you want the egg yolk to be. If you want the yolk to ooze out on to the bread, poach it for merely 2-3 minutes.

3. I would advise using a straining spatula to remove the egg from the water. If not available, carefully use a large enough spoon.

4. You may add vinegar into the simmering water for a firmer poached egg, but if you have a healthy batch of eggs, then you shouldn't need it!

5. I would advise against cracking the egg directly into the saucepan as it is more likely to break upon impact and ruin the water and the dish.

6. You can add minced/grated garlic instead of garlic paste if you have garlic with you and want to save some money.

7. For a more traditional Çilbir, I suggest substituting the red pepper flakes and red chilli powder for paprika and traditional Aleppo pepper powder.

8. It is imperative that the yogurt be kept at room temperature. Beating the yogurt with the garlic helps transform the solid yogurt to a more liquid state.

9. Alternatively, you can use greek yogurt instead of natural yogurt. The taste is likely to be different, however!

10. You can boil the water in a kettle instead of the saucepan directly. This might save some time and energy

11. The prices of the ingredients (table below) are only rough estimates and are subject to change!

12. As certain ingredients are common household items - salt, pepper, oil - you may not be required to purchase them, and so the cost of preparing this dish is lower.

Keywords: Breakfast, Dairy, Eggs, Eggiterian

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