Poached Eggs in Garlic Yoğurt and Paprika

Çilbir

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In Ottoman times, çılbır was the generic term for poached eggs, done all sorts of ways. Palace records from the fifteenth century show that a version of çılbır containing poached eggs and onion was cooked for the mighty sultan Mehmet II. The imperial cooks kept improving on it over the years. This recipe, with garlic yoğurt, was a favourite of the second-last sultan in the empire, Abdulhamid II, in the early twentieth century, and became the gold standard for çılbır in homes and restaurants across Anatolia.

Ingredients

  • 1 garlic clove (or chopped garlic shoots)
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz/2 cups) plain yoğurt
  • ½ small red capsicum (pepper)
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) white vinegar
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ tablespoon aleppo red pepper flakes (or chilli flakes)
  • 4 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • pide bread, to serve (to make your own)

Method

Crush the garlic and mix it with the yoğurt (if the taste of raw garlic in the morning is too strong for you, you could leave out this step, and instead fry a little garlic or chopped garlic shoots later with the capsicum). Set aside at room temperature.

Remove the seeds from the capsicum and finely chop.

Divide the yoğurt mixture into four bowls.

Put 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) of water and the vinegar in a deep frying pan over high heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Carefully break in the eggs, one at a time, with a maximum of three eggs poaching at a time. Cook for 2–3 minutes, or until the whites are set and the yolks are still soft and runny.

While the eggs are poaching, melt the butter in a saucepan, add the red pepper flakes, paprika and capsicum (and garlic, if you’ve saved it for this step) and cook for 3 minutes.

When ready to serve, scoop the eggs out of the simmering water with a slotted spoon and place two in each bowl, on top of the yoğurt. Pour a light stream of the melted butter and peppers over the eggs. Serve with pide.