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Turkish Eggs: An Easy Weeknight Dinner

Fast, Healthy, Delicious.

Fast, Healthy, Delicious.

It’s the holidays. One. Big. Meal. After. Another. If you’re not cooking a feast that was days in the making, you’re eating one prepared by friends or family. As much fun as it can be, sometimes you need a break. Although I first had this dish for brunch at Public in New York last fall, it’s become a favorite weeknight dinner in our apartment, and it’s perfect for the holidays: satisfying, simple to prepare — less than 30 minutes start to finish, including all the prep — and relatively healthy, despite being rich.

I was skeptical, too. I had to have the waiter talk me into it after significant back and forth. I was wrong. He was right. It’s simply fantastic.

Çilbir (“chill burr”) – Turkish Eggs & Yogurt
- serves 2 -

4 eggs
1 Tbsp white vinegar
2 C Greek yogurt
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp dill (optional)
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 baguette or a loaf of your preferred crusty white bread

1. Fill a small pot with water, add vinegar, and bring to a simmer.

2. While the water is heating up, mince the garlic. Add the garlic and dill to the yogurt, stir, and divide into two bowls.

3. When the water reaches a simmer, give it a quick stir and add the eggs one at a time. Depending on the size of the pot you use, you may need to poach the eggs in batches. A bigger pot of water will let you poach all four at once, but will take longer to heat up in the first place, so it comes out about the same.

4. Poach the eggs for 3-4 minutes.*

5. While the eggs are cooking, toast the bread and prepare the butter. Put the butter, paprika, cayenne, and turmeric in a small skillet. Heat over medium heat to melt the butter. As soon as the butter starts to foam, turn the heat off. You want to get a hint of the brown butter flavor, but it’s better to pull it off too early rather than too late, as you don’t want to burn the spices.

6. Remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and put two in each bowl of yogurt.

7. Drizzle the spiced butter over the eggs.

8. Serve with crusty bread.

The dill isn’t traditional as far as I can tell, but another Turkish recipe I have uses a sauce with yogurt, garlic, and dill, and I think it’s perfect here. You can leave it out if you prefer.

The mix of paprika, cayenne, and turmeric is also an approximation, and can be adjusted to taste. At Public, they describe the dish as “Turkish eggs – Two poached eggs on Greek yogurt with kirmizi biber butter.” I looked around for a while trying to figure out exactly what kirmizi biber is, and the internet gave me inconclusive results. Some pages say it’s cayenne pepper. Some say it’s paprika. Some say it’s an entirely different kind of red pepper altogether. I don’t speak a bit of Turkish, so I have no idea what’s right. I don’t even know if the Turks eat it for breakfast or dinner. I do know it’s good though.

*Note: If you’ve never poached eggs before, it may take you a couple tries to get it right. People more skilled than me can give you tips on how to do it perfectly. Practice seems to help, as I’ve been getting it right lately. Thankfully, the dish is good even if the eggs are a touch overdone or underdone.

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