A Taste of the Ottoman Empire

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I was feeling all sorts over the weekend and my mix of emotions and lack of motivation to do school work, sparked me to try out a new breakfast/brunch recipe to get the creative and motivating juices flowing.

I had gone to a brunch restaurant in Toronto not too long ago with a few friends. We all ordered a different item from the menu so that we could share and get a taste of the separately unique dishes they had to offer. We love trying new and especially unique foods. Needless to say, I fell in love with one of the items we ordered and I was inspired to recreate it.

I thought about it for some time. It seemed simple but it was perfectly flavourful. My mouth is getting watery just thinking about it now. It was poached eggs with greek yogurt. I did some research (aka I didn’t go past the first google search page for “greek poached eggs”), and soon discovered that this was in fact a dish dating back to the Ottoman Empire called çilbir (chil-ber). I was intrigued and gave it a shot.

Çilbir is an unusual combination of herbed yogurt and poached eggs. It is creamy and surprisingly flavourful. I am a huge fan of cilantro so the second time I made it, I added a tad bit more. The ingredients are yours to play with and alter depending on your personal taste. Some people prefer more garlic than others and I say, go for it! Up the garlic in your çilbir, but be cautious to not take away from the authenticity of the meal.

This was my first time making poached eggs ever, and I won’t lie, I was intimidated. It seemed like one of those things you could mess up real bad if you didn’t know the technique. But, after one egg I seemed to catch on quite fast and it was smooth sailing from there. I’ll explain the simplistic yet tricky egg poaching down below.

Hope you give it a try and fall in love like I did!

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Ingredients (in order of preperation)

herbed yogurt:
2 garlic cloves minced
2 tbsp green onion finely chopped
2 tbsp cilantrofinely chopped
2 cups whole milk greek yogurt
salt & pepperto taste

poached eggs:
4 eggs refrigerator cool
water enough to poach eggs: dependent on your pot of choice
saltfor boiling water: dependent on the amount of water
2 tsp white vinegar

sauce:
4 tbsp unsalted butter 1tbsp
Aleppo Pepper
or paprika
salt to taste

To make the herbed yogurt, simply combine the first five ingredients and let sit so flavours can mingle while you make the rest of the meal. I recommend whisking the yogurt before combining it with the ingredients for a consistent look and taste. (You don’t want it watery, it should still keep it’s creaminess)

For the eggs, bring salted water to boil on high heat. Once water is boiled, bring down to a light simmer. Add vinegar. (It is important that you add the vinegar after the water has rapidly boiled and brought to a light simmer.)

Crack egg in a small bowl, or measuring cup. Hold ready in one hand while using the other hand to create a whirlpool in the boiling water with a spoon. (It is important to add speed when creating the whirlpool in the water so that when you drop the egg in the centre, it does not shift.)

Carefully drop the egg in the centre or the whirlpool. You will notice that this is the shallowest part of the whirlpool. It is important to drop it in the centre and not the rest of the whirlpool, otherwise you will have chunky bits of egg white swimming in your pot.

Let cook for 3 minutes if you like a soft yolk, and longer for about 7 minutes if you like a hard-boiled yolk. I recommend a soft boiled egg for this dish because it will become one with the yogurt when you eat it and be all the more flavourful. 

Remove egg with a slotted spoon and place on paper towel. Add salt and pepper to taste. Repeat for remaining eggs, one at a time.

In a separate saucepan, melt unsalted butter on medium heat and add Aleppo pepper or paprika and salt. Remove from heat.

Divide herbed yogurt into serving bowls, add poached egg on top and drizzle with butter sauce.

Garnish with cilantro and serve with toasted bread or naan.

Afiyet olsun!

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