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More Nigella recipes

Turkish Eggs

by . Featured in AT MY TABLE
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Introduction

If I hadn’t eaten the Turkish eggs at Peter Gordon’s restaurant, The Providores, I most certainly wouldn’t be tempted by the idea of poached eggs on Greek yogurt. I say that only to pre-empt any hesitancy on your part. For çilbir, pronounced “chulburr”, is a revelation and a complete sensation.

If you can’t get the Aleppo pepper, also known as pul biber or Turkish red pepper flakes, which has a mild, almost sweet heat and a distinctive lemoniness, you could substitute paprika, adding a pinch of dried chilli flakes. But, in these days of online grocery shopping, I’d encourage you to go for the real thing. This is the recipe that helped me overcome my fear of poaching eggs (see additional info below).

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

If I hadn’t eaten the Turkish eggs at Peter Gordon’s restaurant, The Providores, I most certainly wouldn’t be tempted by the idea of poached eggs on Greek yogurt. I say that only to pre-empt any hesitancy on your part. For çilbir, pronounced “chulburr”, is a revelation and a complete sensation.

If you can’t get the Aleppo pepper, also known as pul biber or Turkish red pepper flakes, which has a mild, almost sweet heat and a distinctive lemoniness, you could substitute paprika, adding a pinch of dried chilli flakes. But, in these days of online grocery shopping, I’d encourage you to go for the real thing. This is the recipe that helped me overcome my fear of poaching eggs (see additional info below).

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Image of Nigella's Turkish Eggs
Photo by Jonathan Lovekin

Ingredients

Serves: 2

Metric Cups
  • 200 grams greek yoghurt
  • 1 clove garlic (peeled and minced)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
  • 2 x 15ml tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 x 15ml tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper / Turkish red pepper flakes
  • 2 large eggs (fridge-cold)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • a few fronds fresh dill (chopped)

To serve:

  • chunkily sliced and toasted sourdough or other bread
  • ¾ cup greek yoghurt
  • 1 clove garlic (peeled and minced)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 x 15ml tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 x 15ml tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper / Turkish red pepper flakes
  • 2 large eggs (fridge-cold)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • a few fronds fresh dill (chopped)

To serve:

  • chunkily sliced and toasted sourdough or other bread

Method

  1. Fill a wide-ish saucepan (I use one of 22cm diameter) with water to come about 4cm up the sides of the pan. Put it on the heat and cover so that it heats up faster. Line a large plate with some kitchen roll, get out a slotted spoon, and put both near the pan now.
  2. Now fill another pan – on which a heatproof bowl can sit comfortably – again with water to come 3–4cm up the sides, and bring to the boil. Put the yogurt in said bowl, stir in the garlic and salt, and sit it on top of this pan, making sure the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Stir it until it gets to body temperature and has the consistency of lightly whipped double cream. Turn off the heat and leave the bowl as it is, over the pan.
  3. Melt the butter gently in a small pan until it is just beginning to turn a hazelnutty brown (this is why, in classic French cuisine, it’s known as beurre noisette), but make sure it’s not actually burning. Turn the heat off under the pan, then stir in the olive oil, followed by the beautiful red pepper flakes; it will foam up fierily. Leave to one side while you get on with the eggs. And this is when you should be thinking of putting the toast on.
  4. When you are ready to poach the eggs, crack the first egg into a finemesh strainer suspended over a small bowl, then lift it up a little and swirl gently for about 30 seconds, letting the watery part of the white drip into the bowl. Gently tip the egg into a small cup or ramekin and, aiming for the white, add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice; I know everyone else says vinegar, but I just don’t like the taste of it on the egg, and the lemon does the trick just the same. Proceed as above with the second egg.
  5. When the poaching water is just starting to simmer, take a cup or ramekin in each hand and gently slide in the eggs, one on each side of the pan. Turn the heat right down so there is no movement in the water whatsoever, and poach the eggs for 3–4 minutes until the whites are set and the yolks still runny. Transfer the eggs with your slotted spoon to the paper-lined plate to remove any excess water. Do remember to switch off the heat. Sorry to state the obvious, but I have too often left it on this low without noticing.
  6. Divide the warm creamy yogurt between two shallow bowls, top each with a poached egg, pour the peppery butter around and slightly over the yogurt, scatter the chopped dill on top, and eat dreamily, dipping in some thick well-toasted bread as you do so.
  1. Fill a wide-ish saucepan (I use one of 22cm diameter) with water to come about 4cm up the sides of the pan. Put it on the heat and cover so that it heats up faster. Line a large plate with some kitchen roll, get out a slotted spoon, and put both near the pan now.
  2. Now fill another pan – on which a heatproof bowl can sit comfortably – again with water to come 3–4cm up the sides, and bring to the boil. Put the yogurt in said bowl, stir in the garlic and salt, and sit it on top of this pan, making sure the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Stir it until it gets to body temperature and has the consistency of lightly whipped double cream. Turn off the heat and leave the bowl as it is, over the pan.
  3. Melt the butter gently in a small pan until it is just beginning to turn a hazelnutty brown (this is why, in classic French cuisine, it’s known as beurre noisette), but make sure it’s not actually burning. Turn the heat off under the pan, then stir in the olive oil, followed by the beautiful red pepper flakes; it will foam up fierily. Leave to one side while you get on with the eggs. And this is when you should be thinking of putting the toast on.
  4. When you are ready to poach the eggs, crack the first egg into a finemesh strainer suspended over a small bowl, then lift it up a little and swirl gently for about 30 seconds, letting the watery part of the white drip into the bowl. Gently tip the egg into a small cup or ramekin and, aiming for the white, add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice; I know everyone else says vinegar, but I just don’t like the taste of it on the egg, and the lemon does the trick just the same. Proceed as above with the second egg.
  5. When the poaching water is just starting to simmer, take a cup or ramekin in each hand and gently slide in the eggs, one on each side of the pan. Turn the heat right down so there is no movement in the water whatsoever, and poach the eggs for 3–4 minutes until the whites are set and the yolks still runny. Transfer the eggs with your slotted spoon to the paper-lined plate to remove any excess water. Do remember to switch off the heat. Sorry to state the obvious, but I have too often left it on this low without noticing.
  6. Divide the warm creamy yogurt between two shallow bowls, top each with a poached egg, pour the peppery butter around and slightly over the yogurt, scatter the chopped dill on top, and eat dreamily, dipping in some thick well-toasted bread as you do so.

Additional Information

I know the business of putting the eggs in a strainer seems like a fussy step too far (and I admit I don’t always follow my own instructions), but here’s the thing: the crucial element in creating beautifully formed poached eggs is how fresh they are, as the longer they sit after they’ve been laid, the more watery the egg whites become. And since a freshly laid egg is generally held to be one that has been laid no longer than 48 hours before it’s cooked, I very much doubt the eggs I buy at the supermarket count. If you gently crack an egg into a fine-mesh strainer and swirl it over a bowl, the wateriness (which turns into a stringy kind of fluff while cooking) drips away, and the jellied white that remains holds its shape more. Having said that, I do think that unless you’ve worked the brunch station at a busy restaurant for months on end, you’ll be hard pushed to turn out perfectly formed poached eggs every time. So do not feel that anything less than perfection is a mistake, and accept a little straggliness here and there.

I know the business of putting the eggs in a strainer seems like a fussy step too far (and I admit I don’t always follow my own instructions), but here’s the thing: the crucial element in creating beautifully formed poached eggs is how fresh they are, as the longer they sit after they’ve been laid, the more watery the egg whites become. And since a freshly laid egg is generally held to be one that has been laid no longer than 48 hours before it’s cooked, I very much doubt the eggs I buy at the supermarket count. If you gently crack an egg into a fine-mesh strainer and swirl it over a bowl, the wateriness (which turns into a stringy kind of fluff while cooking) drips away, and the jellied white that remains holds its shape more. Having said that, I do think that unless you’ve worked the brunch station at a busy restaurant for months on end, you’ll be hard pushed to turn out perfectly formed poached eggs every time. So do not feel that anything less than perfection is a mistake, and accept a little straggliness here and there.

Tell us what you think

What 13 Others have said

  • Never heard of this, decided to give this a go, and loved it! Who knew!

    Posted by colbabe on 5th September 2019
  • I tried not to make this. It sounded so ridiculously time consuming and involved and I have never successfully poached an egg. However, I could not stop thinking about how good it might be. In the end, I succumbed. I was moaning just tasting a bite of warm yogurt with garlic. The entire dish was excellent and not hard to prepare once I found the discipline to just read the instructions and do it. I’m going to fry eggs in leftover butter tomorrow. I am now a convert. More! And, I can now poach eggs which are so much more delicious in their purity.

    Posted by alexisd on 1st September 2019
  • I made this today and I absolutely loved it. I too thought it was a weird combo but hey to be honest I licked my bowl clean at the end.

    Posted by Sherrygloss on 16th July 2019
  • Thank you so much Nigella for the quick recipe for the Turkish eggs! Wholesome and different! This is certainly going to be a regular thing with me !

    Posted by Tejaswini70 on 20th May 2019
  • As a lover of eggs any which way, when I first saw this on the TV series I thought - eww! Greek yogurt with eggs? - but after buying the book and giving it a go (I think it was one of the first recipes I tried from A.M.T) it really does work once flavoured as directed and had the fridge chill taken off it. I have made this three times now and I have to be honest, I really struggle to get all the elements together as we like them for plating at the same time (hot buttered toast, still warm oozy yolked poached eggs and the chilli flake butter still warm), so if you can have someone on toast (and tea making) duty that does help. Today I tried the tip from a comment below on the 'perfect poached eggs every time' of putting the shelled eggs into the boiling water for 20 seconds - just my experience, maybe I did it wrong but this was a disaster as the eggs looked hideously curdled and misshapen so had to throw that batch out and start afresh. Thank you Nigella for a recipe I would never have ordered in a restaurant let alone make at home, but now do.

    Posted by George739 on 23rd March 2019
  • Thought the combination sounded a little odd, but tried it with home made bread for a simple meal after work and it's my new favourite egg dish, delicious!

    Posted by Kryan on 22nd October 2018
  • Pop eggs in their shell into boiling water for 20secs remove with slotted spoon turn down the heat until water stops rolling, then crack egg into the water. Perfect poached eggs every time!

    Posted by Tiny10 on 16th September 2018
  • A cheat's guide to poaching eggs. For each egg: a saucer lined with a square of lightly-oiled clingfilm. Break the egg onto the clingfilm and twirl into a little parcel. Cook in simmering water until done to your liking. Unwrap onto whatever you're eating it with. More coddling than poaching, but a good result.

    Posted by salou on 15th September 2018
  • I made these this morning, though I made sunny side up eggs versus the poached. Loooved the aleppo pepper butter and plan on using my leftover butter on my steak tonight. I was a little leery of the whole yogurt with eggs thing, but it turned out to be devine. My leftover yogurt is going to be made into a cucumber salad dressing tonight since it's already garlicky.

    Posted by WhiskTaker on 10th June 2018
  • I am totally addicted to this dish, I love it. I'm telling everyone about it.

    Posted by jellydene on 5th March 2018
  • I love this dish (and all of Nigella's recipes)!

    Posted by Meia2 on 1st January 2018
  • Made this today. Just so tasty. I've never poached an egg in my life, however, her instructions are on point and it came out like a hotel poached egg. Perfect. This will be on rotation now. Thanks Nigella!

    Posted by bana3 on 24th November 2017
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