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25 Jan 2010 - 16:25
15 Jan 2010 - 18:53

cihangir eggs

poached eggs with yogurt, garlic, chili and mint

Monday, 25 Jan 2010

There's a cute place in the Cihangir neighborhood of Istanbul that's become our go-to breakfast and post-workout hangout: Cuppa.  They have juices so packed with energy they can lift a spirit from the grave -- perfect after a long and boring training run on the treadmill.  One of my favorites is pear + ginger, with so much ginger your throat roars with a small fire, but you know you're protected from whatever immunity-destructing junk the season has on offer.

We've become very lazy when it comes to traversing the city for brunch, so it's been perfect that this bright and happy place is just a couple blocks away.  These eggs were inspired by a particularly delicious brunch we enjoyed one day, and have in the weeks since become our treasured default for Saturday brunch at home.  Poached eggs topped with strained yogurt, with some garlic and chili for the kick.  I know it sounds a little bizarre -- the hot egg, the cold yogurt -- but it blends into a dreamy bite that's fresh and filling at once. All this white on the dish with jolts of color here and there seems perfectly fitting of Istanbul right now-- it's been snowing non-stop for three days and the city is blanketed in thick white powder. For sure our favorite breakfast these days!

cihangir eggs
serves 2

4 slices whole wheat bread
3 cloves of garlic
1 pasilla chili
4 eggs
1 cup strained yogurt (Turkish süzme yogurt, or Greek yogurt in the US)
olive oil
a few mint leaves (oregano is tasty too!)
sea salt

Heat a skillet or fire up your broiler.  Crush the 3 garlic cloves in a garlic press. Reserve 1/3 of crushed garlic for the yogurt.  Mix 2/3 of the crushed garlic on a flat plate with a good amount of olive oil.  Cut 4 thickish slices of whole wheat bread, and dip each side in the garlic-oil mixture.  Toast the bread, either under the broiler or on a skillet, flipping halfway through until both sides are golden and crispy.

Toast the pasilla chili until slightly crispy but not burned.  Remove the seeds and pulverize the chili.  Mix the chili powder with some olive oil and set aside.  

Bring a pot of water to almost boiling and then keep it at a simmer. You're going to poach the eggs in this water, so it can't be boiling too hard.  One by one, crack an egg into a small bowl and then gently pour the egg into the water. I gently nudge the egg to a side of the pot and then follow suit with the next egg.  I've cooked up to four eggs at once in a big pot of water, and wouldn't suggest trying to cook many more in one go.  Let the eggs enjoy their bath for about 4 minutes, until the whites are cooked.  Remove the eggs one by one with a slotted spoon and place in a big fine colander, or a flat plate, to drain off any traces of water.  

Meanwhile, take a cup of strained yogurt and add a couple tablespoons of water until you have a creamy, slightly liquid consistency.  The measurements aren't precise here because the yogurt you use will likely have a different consistency from mine.*  I don't recommend using simple plain yogurt in place of strained thickened yogurt.  The whey removed in the straining process changes the flavor pretty dramatically.  Mix in the reserved 1/3 crushed garlic and a good pinch of salt. 

Assembly time.  Take a piece of toasted bread and carefully top with a poached egg.  Spoon some of the yogurt mix on top, sprinkle with a few drops of the chili-oil, some roughly torn leaves of mint, and a couple flakes of sea salt.

* To make your own strained yogurt: Drape a cheesecloth over the inside of a colander, and place the colander over a bowl.  Pour some good quality, plain (no sugar!) yogurt into the colander, and place this contraption into the refrigerator overnight.  In the morning, you'll find some thickened strained yogurt in the colander and the whey (full of riboflavin!) in the bowl.  Use the whey to make some bread and enjoy your tangy yogurt!

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