Cilbir (Turkish Poached Eggs in Yogurt and Dill Sauce)

Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  6 servings
Prep Time:  15 minutes Cook Time:  10 minutes

Cilbir (Turkish Poached Eggs in Yogurt and Dill Sauce)

This dish, redolent of herbs, is quick, tasty, and perfect for a weekend breakfast or brunch. You can easily make it a more expansive meal by serving it with olives, cherry tomatoes (if they are in season), seedless peeled cucumber slices, and plenty of warm pita bread, lavash, or crispy Ak-Mak crackers. Fried eggplant slices or a cucumber and tomato salad would also make nice accompaniments. Allow time for the yogurt to drain.


6 cups plain Greek yogurt

3¼ teaspoons white vinegar, divided

8 cloves garlic, peeled, halved, and grated, any green centers discarded

½ cup crumbled feta (about 2 ounces)

Leaves of ½ bunch fresh dill, finely chopped (about 3 tablespoons)

Leaves of ½ bunch fresh mint (about 1½ tablespoons)

12 eggs


  1. Line a fine-mesh sieve with a layer of cheesecloth and nestle it over a mixing bowl. Add the yogurt, cover with plastic wrap, and let it drain in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes (see Kitchen Tips).
  2. After 30 minutes, place the sieve on a plate for a moment while you discard the liquid that has collected in the bowl and wipe the bowl clean. Then scoop the yogurt into the bowl and add 3 teaspoons vinegar, the garlic, and feta, and mix well to combine. Add about half of the herbs to the yogurt mixture and stir to combine. Spoon a little more than 1 cup of yogurt into each of 6 individual serving bowls.
  3. Poach the eggs: fill a small, wide pot with enough water to come 2 inches up the side. Add the remaining ¼ teaspoon vinegar and bring to a strong simmer. Crack 1 egg into a small bowl, being careful not to break the yolk. Using a wooden spoon, create a vortex in the pot by stirring the water around in circles. Drop the egg into the spinning water. Repeat with another egg and simmer for 2 minutes for runny poached egg, 3 minutes for a soft yolk, and 4 minutes for a hard yolk. Repeat with the other eggs (see Kitchen Tips).
  4. Remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon as they are done, and place 2 on each serving of yogurt. Sprinkle the remaining mint leaves and dill on top and serve immediately. If you wish, serve with Crispy Fried Shawarma-Spiced Eggplant Slices, Tomato and Cucumber Salad, or  Herbed Cucumber Tomato Salad.

Kitchen Tips

  1. If you use a high-quality brand of Greek yogurt (Fage or Noosa brands are good), you won’t need to strain the yogurt to thicken it; you can use it straight from the container. Otherwise, you will have to use your judgement as to how long to leave it in the fridge to thicken, because each brand will behave differently. The 30 minutes suggested above is a starting point.
  2. If you have a wide enough skillet, you can poach more than 2 eggs at a time; just make sure that you have more than enough room so they don’t touch.

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