çilbir/Turkish eggs


Nik Sharma

Hey Friends, I’m a multi-award-winning and best-selling cookbook author and photographer.

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çilbir/Turkish eggs

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5 from 1 review

This recipe has a special place in my heart. I first learned to make çilbir or Turkish eggs from author and television host Nigella Lawson when she visited the test kitchen at The San Francisco Chronicle on her book tour for, At My Table. Perfectly poached eggs sit nestled on a bed of creamy garlic yogurt and are drizzled with chilli. The eggs are garnished with fresh dill but feel free to experiment with the herbs and spices. I like to serve two eggs per person, but you can use one. This is also my go-to dish whenever I’m feeling lazy in the kitchen, and the best part, it’s satisfying at lunch and dinner too. 

On a side note, this is also the perfect way to poach an egg. 

  • Yield: 1


3/4 cup/180 g plain unsweetened Greek yogurt

1 garlic clove, grated

 fine sea salt

2 large eggs

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp Aleppo, Urfa, or Maras flakes

1/2 tsp dried oregano

a few sprigs of fresh dill

toasted slices of buttered sourdough bread, pita, or simit, to serve (optional)


  1. Set two medium saucepans over the stove. Fill one with enough water to cover a whole egg. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce to a simmer. Fill the second saucepan with water up to 1 in/2.5 cm and bring to a simmer over low heat.
  2. Set a medium metal mixing bowl (don’t use glass, it doesn’t conduct heat as well) over the second saucepan. Add the yogurt, garlic, and salt to taste. Whisk until smooth and creamy. The yogurt should have the consistency of loosely whipped cream, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the yogurt to a serving bowl.
  3. Crack an egg and place it in a fine-mesh strainer suspended over a small bowl. Let the loose liquidy part of the egg white drain through, about 10 seconds. Carefully tip the strainer to transfer the egg to a small bowl. Add a tsp of lemon juice over the egg. Carefully tip the egg into the saucepan with the simmering water. The water should be barely bubbling. Repeat with the second egg. Let the eggs poach in the water undisturbed until the whites turn opaque, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, drain the excess water, and place the poached eggs over the yogurt. 
  4. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the Aleppo and oregano, and swirl the oil until it turns bright red and the spices turn fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour the hot oil with the spices over the eggs. 
  5. Top with dill and serve with toasted bread. This dish does not store well. Eat it as soon as it is prepared.


  • Use full-fat Greek yogurt here. I’ve also successfully used Icelandic skyr to make this. 
  • I like to add dried oregano or thyme to the hot oil, it enhances the heat of the Aleppo.
  • Aleppo, Maras, and Urfa can be purchased online. Mix 3/4 tsp smoked sweet paprika and 1/4 tsp cayenne flakes if you can’t find them. 
  • If you can find simit, I encourage you to eat the çilbir with it.

7 Responses

    1. You can use vinegar but it leaves a noticeable smell behind, that might turn some people off. If the vinegar smell becomes an issue, dip the egg in cool plain water after poaching.

  1. FYI, traditionally sumac is used, not chilis/peppers. Though, traveling throughout Türkiye now you will find they put the chilis/peppers in everything (where they not used before).

  2. Delicious. Worth the fuss – I’m normally a one pot cook.
    I happened to have celery greens on hand – so subbed those for the dill; zaatar for oregano; berbere for Aleppo

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