What surprised me most about Turkish cuisine when I visited Istanbul several years ago was how spicy it could be. I thought the food would be more like its Iranian counterpart: herbaceous and drizzled with saffron and turmeric at every turn. And while Turkish cuisine incorporates similar flavors, it’s also laden with peppers, both mild and hot. I loved it. Redolent with fresh vegetables, flatbreads, yogurt, lamb, and ingredients similar to the Iranian palate I’d grown up with, Turkish food was at the same time familiar but not.
One of my favorite dishes were these poached eggs. No one does breakfast like the Turks. The silky sauce is garlicy, yogurty, and has just enough heat so that you can’t stop sopping it up with bread, yolks and all. You can serve this with any flatbread, but I prefer this with some good-quality slices of toasted sourdough. Iranian barbari is delicious too.
1/2 cup plain whole-milk Turkish or Greek yogurt
1 small garlic clove, minced
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ground Aleppo pepper or Turkish red chile flakes
2 large cold eggs
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, divided
2 thick sourdough slices or pieces of barbari bread, toasted
1. Fill a large skillet with water to a depth of 2 inches. Bring to a simmer over medium.
2. Place yogurt in a small saucepan and slowly warm over low heat. Stir in garlic and salt. Cook, stirring, until yogurt mixture is the consistency of lightly whipped cream, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to turn brown, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in oil and Aleppo pepper.
4. Crack 1 egg into a ramekin or small bowl. Add 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Repeat with remaining egg and remaining 1 teaspoon lemon juice in another ramekin or small bowl.
5. Gently slide eggs, 1 on each side of the large skillet, into the simmering water. Reduce heat so there is no movement in the water, and poach eggs until whites are set and yolks are still runny, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the eggs to a plate.
6. Divide the warm creamy yogurt mixture between 2 shallow bowls. Top each with a poached egg, and pour the peppery butter around and slightly over the yogurt. Serve with bread.