I’m not going to write a long story about how I visited Istanbul and fell in love with Turkish Eggs. I’m not ashamed to say that I fell in love with Turkish Eggs because of Nigella Lawson (and if you prefer, you can watch her BBC video and then come back here for my recipe!).
The truth is, I did visit Istanbul once. However, all I ate on that trip were kebabs because I was at a conference where, well, all they served were kebabs. What a missed opportunity it was to try literally every other kind of incredible Turkish food! To walk through the Turkish markets and see and smell all these exciting flavours and not be able to experience them was really tough.
So, when I realized last year that versions of “Turkish Eggs” were popping up all over the internet, I was intrigued. I’m always looking for better and more “special” ways to eat eggs, especially on a leisurely weekend morning, and this way is honestly just glorious. Garlic! Yoghurt! Poached Eggs! Fiery red butter sauce! You can find versions of this recipe all over the place, but in my opinion, some of them really cut corners or try to “Americanize” an already simple dish. I created one that I hope you can work with easily, but also authentically. I’ve added the chickpeas because they are such a fun and easy source of additional protein and texture, and are still cohesive in flavour.
One final note: while you could use paprika and chili flakes instead of Aleppo pepper flakes, this is a case where finding the real thing makes a huge difference. I have tried it both ways, and the way that the Aleppo pepper sizzles and melts into the butter is truly a sensual thing.
Turkish Eggs (Çılbır) With Roasted Chickpeas
A savoury, garlicky breakfast of champions
- 1 cup Greek yoghurt adjust to preference, 1 cup per person
- 2 large eggs at room temperature as fresh and high-quality as possible
- 1 clove garlic finely crushed
- 2 tbsp salted butter
- 3 tbsp olive oil extra for roasting chickpeas
- 1 tsp Aleppo pepper flakes can substitute paprika and chili flakes
- 1 tsp flaky sea salt to taste
- 1/2 can chickpeas optional, but recommended
- 1 handful dill for garnish, can use other herbs as desired
- 1 sprig mint for garnish, can use other herbs as desired
- 1 crusty bread or pita for serving I prefer dark sourdough
- 1 tbsp lemon juice or white vinegar optional
For the Roasted Chickpeas
Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F/175 degrees C. Open the can of chickpeas and rinse lightly with water in a colander. Drain, and place the chickpeas on a paper towel; dab until mostly dry. Transfer to baking tray and coat with olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika or Aleppo. Roast for 10-15 minutes or until golden and crunchy, tossing gently halfway through. Set aside.
For the Garlic Yoghurt Sauce and Aleppo Pepper Sauce
Fill a medium saucepan up to about 6 cm deep with water and bring to a gentle boil. Spoon the yoghurt into a heatproof glass bowl large enough to sit over the pot. Stir in the crushed garlic and sea salt. Place the bowl over the pot, making sure the base doesn’t touch the water. Stir periodically until the sauce becomes smooth and creamy. Turn off heat.
In another, smaller saucepan, melt the butter until it is just beginning to turn golden. Turn the heat off, then stir in 2 tbsp of the olive oil, followed by the Aleppo pepper (or paprika and chili flakes) and set aside. The butter should bubble and sputter a little until the pepper is absorbed.
For the Poached Eggs
Fill a small, lidded saucepan halfway with water and set to medium heat until it reaches a gentle simmer. Meanwhile, line a large plate with paper towel and set nearby.
Crack the first egg into into a ramekin. Pour a tiny amount of lemon juice or vinegar onto the egg, aiming for the egg white. Repeat with second egg when ready.
When the poaching water is at a nice simmer, take a spoon or chopstick and swirl the water until you get a little vortex. Quickly slide in the eggs one at a time. Turn the heat down so there is little movement in the water, and poach the eggs for 3–4 minutes or until the whites are set. Transfer the eggs to the lined plate using a slotted spoon.
Toast and butter your bread if desired, and time well to serve hot when the rest of the components of the dish are done.
Dollop the garlic yoghurt into a shallow bowl (I love using a French Onion Soup bowl), and top with the poached eggs, the Aleppo pepper butter, and scatter the chickpeas and herbs over the top.