Cilbir Mediterranean Eggs, traditionally Turkish, are poached eggs over garlic yogurt with Aleppo pepper and olive oil.
This Mediterranean style of cooking and serving eggs, dates back to the time of the Ottomans, known as Cilbir.
The dish is rich in protein and flavor, and makes for a beautiful ‘meze’ in small bowls, or perfect for a brunch or luncheon, served with traditional bread.
When I make Cilbir, I always make certain to make Simit as well, a traditional Turkish sesame bread, both amazingly delicious!
What Is Cilbir
Dating back to the time of the Ottoman Empire, a time in history known for its many contributions to the world of art and culture, I found this dish as artistically beautiful as delicious.
It seemed only fitting that I serve Cilbir in a plate adorned with gold, at a meze spread with other Turkish and Middle Eastern dishes.
Cilbir is traditionally served as a breakfast meal. Having come, not from Turkish decent but rather Syrian, I have always enjoyed the style of dining known as Meze; a table spread of many small plates.
Cilbir and Mediterranean Meze
Besides meze dining being fit for an Ottoman Sultan, it is also the perfect style of dining for us Americans too; a spread with one’s favorite dishes.
Basically, meze is a way cooks or chefs can best show-off their refined style of cooking, through a vast variety of favorite dishes.
Equally similar to a meze spread is a tapas spread, which is a style from Spain, mezethakia from Greece or Izakaya from Japan.
Indeed Cilbir makes for the perfect protein dish to serve on a Meze spread, for a variety of reasons:
- It won’t be necessary to serve a meat or fish dish
- Cilbir is perfect for dipping a homemade bread in
- Let’s face it, eggs just look beautiful on a spread of food, with no competition, in looks, from other dishes
Yogurt With Eggs?
Although yogurt in America is eaten predominently as a sweet dish, usually with fruits, in other parts of the world it is served as a savory dish.
In fact, throughout much of the Middle East, Lebneh/Yogurt, which in my home was always homemade, is served as a drink, watered down and with salt.
Therefore, when I first was introduced to cilbir as an egg dish, I found that the garlic yogurt became more of a sauce, than the dominant element on the plate.
Have you ever made your own yogurt? It couldn’t be easier, the only trick is finding a store bought yogurt with live culture to start your own batch.
- In a large pot, boil milk and cool it to a temperature you can hold your finger in and count to 10
- Next, add the rowbee, Syrian word for a starter
- Cover and leave in a warm (not hot), place overnight
- The next morning, place it in the fridge and in a few hours it is beautifully firm yogurt, without thickener, or other artificial means
Kind of like making sourdough bread, in which starter is saved and continued to use in the next batch.
Yogurt For Cilbir
This creamy, luscious, soothing, milky fermented bacteria has been around for longer than it has been documented.
While here in America we know yogurt that is primarily made from cow’s milk, yogurt for cilbir is usually sheep, goat, and even camel milk.
The Yogurt from my childhood was not sugary, not frozen, not a dessert. Instead, this type of yogurt is the staple in many savory meals, sauces, soups, cheese, drinks, or eaten alone.
An aid to the body’s immune system, by incorporating healthy bacteria into the intestines, makes yogurt a preventative health aid.
If it was ever served sweet, it was a rare treat for breakfast in which honey, real honey, cinnamon and pistachios were added.
Mediterranean Garlic Yogurt
Yogurt, in my Mediterranean home, was always served with meat. It was sometimes a sauce with garlic, herbs even raw vegetables, but it was there as an aid to the digestion of meat.
Tzatziki, is a savory yogurt dish which is the basis for many Middle Eastern and Greek sauces served on top of meat or on the side as a salad.
Garlic yogurt is the basis for Cilbir, this lovely Turkish inspired poached egg dish. The cloud of eggs sits on top of the intensely flavored garlic yogurt.
Generous drizzles of the best olive oil you can come by, topped with a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper. Aleppo pepper is a little sweet, somewhat hot and also smokey.
A beautiful trio of flavors for this, seemingly, delicate looking dish.
Ever wonder how a restaurant kitchen, with so much going on, can perfectly poach lots of eggs at one time?
What magic happens in that kitchen that always gives you that ‘showstopper yolk’ trickling down the ingredients it was sitting on?
My son Omar Daumit, is a professional chef. I don’t know why it took me so long to ask him to teach me how to ‘professionally’ poach an egg. Then one day, I did.
Afterwards, once Omar showed me how a perfectly poached egg is done in a restaurant kitchen, I put away all the pans and gadgets I once used to poach an egg. So easy, so fast, so Professional!
- Lebneh or thick yogurt
- Olive oil
- Aleppo pepper
- Mixing bowl
- Garlic press
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Boiling pot
- Slotted spoon
- Stovetop or burner
Cilbir Mediterranean EggsCourse: EggsCuisine: Mediterranean
Cilbir, the traditional Turkish style poached egg, over garlic yogurt, Aleppo peppers and virgin olive oil.
Lebneh or plain thick yogurt – 1 cup
Garlic – 1 clove, crushed
Salt – a pinch
Poached Eggs – 2
Virgin Olive oil – 2 tbsp
Aleppo pepper – 1 tsp
- In a mixing bowl, place the lebneh/yogurt, crushed garlic clove and a pinch of salt. Whisk these ingredients together, divide into two serving plates and set aside while making the poached eggs.
- The poached eggs can be make at this time, following a familiar technique to you or by making the technique I use for restaurant style poached eggs.
- Place a poached egg on top of each serving dish with garlic yogurt.
- Drizzle the olive oil across each egg, followed by a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper and serve.