Çılbır or Turkish Poached Eggs with Garlic Yoghurt and Burnt Butter Dressing

Turkish Poached Eggs with Garlic Yoghurt and Burnt Butter Dressing or Çılbır
Traditionally, Çılbır (pronounced “chilber”) is a starter. It is the harmony of simple ingredients like poached eggs, garlic yoghurt, butter, ground sweet paprika and dried mint. My husband thinks the garlic yoghurt in Çılbır takes away the heaviness of egg yolks. For me, it’s an absolute comfort dish –starter of otherwise.

I believe Çılbır dates back to Ottoman palace kitchen. I remember our cook at one of those hotels I used to manage making Çılbır for our hotel guests. It was always a crowd pleaser. My recipe below is based on his recipe. Only with a twist.

ÇılbırTurkish Poached Eggs with Garlic Yoghurt and Burnt Butter Dressing or Çılbır
Serves 2

4 fresh free-range eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons white vinegar or apple cider vinegar

For Garlic Yoghurt:
1 cup plain yoghurt, preferably Greek style (unsweetened)
1 clove garlic, crushed

For Burnt Butter Dressing:
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon ground sweet paprika
1 teaspoon or maybe a bit more dried mint

• Fill a wide saucepan with water until approximately 5cm deep. Add vinegar and bring to a boil.
• Meanwhile, crush the garlic and mix with yoghurt. If the yoghurt is too thick, thin it down with a little bit of water. Garlic yoghurt needs to be a bit runny to make it easy to spread over eggs.
• Melt the butter in a small saucepan. When it starts foaming, add the paprika and dried mint. Swirl it around and remove from the heat.
• Crack eggs individually into a ramekin or a small bowl. You could process two eggs together if you want to. When the water starts boiling, reduce the heat down to medium. Water should be just simmering. Slowly, tip the eggs into water. Poach the eggs for 2 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon. Divide the eggs between plates.
• Return the burnt butter to the heat and heat it up a little. Top the eggs up with garlic yoghurt first and then drizzle with burnt butter. Serve Çılbır immediately.

Recipe Notes:
• Mop Çılbır up with some Turkish bread.
• Most people back in Turkey has Çılbır with Turkish chilli flakes. So, there’s a thought.

Na’ama’s Fattoush recipe from Jerusalem


This is a fabulous fattoush recipe from a fabulous book: Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. I own a signed copy of it –signed by both authors. It is a beautiful book with a cloth cover and full of childhood memories around food, tradition, history and the city itself.

My fascination with Jewish food started with Marlena Spieler’s cookbook called Jewish Cooking and later on continued with Yotam Ottolenghi. None of these cookbooks are vegetarian. Nevertheless, they are great source of inspiration for me.

Back to the recipe… I have the original recipe here for you. However, I had to adjust a few things while I was making my own fattoush. For example, I reduced the measurements because it’s just the two of us. And, I used Afghan bread instead of Turkish flatbread or naan. As I always say: my kitchen is my queendom and I rule! 🙂

Na’ama’s Fattoush


200 g Greek yoghurt and 200ml full-fat milk or 400mI of buttermilk (replacing both yoghurt
and milk)
2 large stale Turkish flatbread or naan (250g in total)
3 large tomatoes (380g in total), cut into 1.5cm dice
100 g radishes, thinly sliced
1 Lebanese or mini cucumbers (250g in total), peeled and chopped into 1.5cm dice
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
15 g mint
25 g flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 tbsp dried mint
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp lemon juice
60 ml olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
2 tbsp cider or white wine vinegar
¾ tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tbsp sumac or more according to taste, to garnish

• If using yoghurt and milk, start at least three hours and up to a day in advance by placing both in a bowl. Whisk well and leave in a cool place or in the fridge until bubbles form on the surface. What you get is a kind of home-made buttermilk, but less sour.

• Tear the bread into bite-size pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Add your fermented yoghurt mixture or commercial buttermilk, followed by the rest of the ingredients, mix well and leave for 10 minutes for all the flavours to combine.

• Spoon the fattoush into serving bowls, drizzle with some olive oil and garnish generously with sumac.


Food Groups: Water, Part 1

Food Groups: Water
Water is the main constituent of the body: it makes up approximately 50-80% of the body weight, depending on lean body mass. Water is so essential to life as humans can survive only a few days without it.


In the body, water becomes the fluid in which all life processes occur. Functions of water can be summarised as:
• Carries nutrients and waste products throughout the body.
• Maintains the structure of large molecules such as proteins and glycogen.
• Participates in metabolic reactions.
• Serves as the solvent for minerals, vitamins, amino acids, glucose and many other small molecules.
• Acts as a lubricant and cushion around joints and inside the eyes, the spinal cord and in pregnancy, the amniotic sac surrounding the foetus in the womb.
• Aids in the regulation of body temperature.
• Maintains blood volume.

To support vital functions of our bodies, we need to create water balance: balance between water intake and output. Dehydration occurs when water output exceeds water input.

There are three levels of dehydration: mild dehydration, chronic mild dehydration and acute dehydration. The symptoms of mild dehydration include:
• Thirst
• dry skin and membranes
• rapid heartbeat
• low blood pressure
• weakness

The reported health effects of chronic mild dehydration include increased risk of kidney stones, urinary tract cancers, colon cancer, childhood obesity, mitral valve prolapse and diminished physical and mental performance and salivary gland function. In addition to these health effects, mild chronic dehydration and poor fluid intake may have detrimental effects on proper elimination. There are certain processes in the body –such as intestines, kidneys, skin and lungs—require adequate water to function properly.

Acute dehydration manifests even more serious symptoms such as dizziness, spastic muscles, loss of balance, delirium, exhaustion and collapse.

Water Losses
The body must excrete a minimum of about 500 millilitres of water each day as urine. In addition to urine, water is lost from the lungs as vapour and from the skin as sweat and some is also lost in faeces.

How Much Water
According to Australian Guidelines, to be properly hydrated in a temperate climate like ours in Australia, adults require some 2500-3000 millilitres of fluid a day, depending on body size. Every day, solid foods we consume contribute approximately 1000 millilitres (1 litre) of water and 250 millilitres of water is produced by the body’s metabolism. However, the remainder needs to come from free water or other fluids or both.

There are circumstances, however, where there is an increased need for water such as exposure to hot weather or high temperatures, physical activity, exercise, strenuous work, exposure to air-conditioning, exposure to heating more than short periods, pregnancy, breastfeeding, fever, diarrhoea and vomiting.

To be continued…

1. Robinson J. 2002 Water, electrolytes and acid-base balance in Essentials in Human Nutrition edited by Mann J. & Truswell A. Oxford University Press. U. S. A. pages 113-128.
2. Baghurst K. 2003 Drink Plenty of Water in Food for Health: Dietary Guidelines for Australian Adults. Commonwealth of Australia. pages 95-105.
3. Whitney E. N., Cataldo C. B., Rolfes S. R. 2002 Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition Wadsworth /Thompson Learning U. S. A. pages 387-388.

Fettuccine in Creamy Prawn and Bacon Sauce (all vegetarian)

Fettuccine in Creamy Prawn and Bacon Sauce
Every week, we have one pasta dish for dinner. Supermarket bought ready to go, pop-out-of-the-jar style pasta sauces can be very practical. I use Arabiatta, Bolognese (by adding vegetarian mince to it), there is Napolitana and an olive variety as well. They are all tomato based as you can tell. So, it gets a little boring after a while.

To remedy the boredom situation in pasta dishes, I decided to add creamy pasta sauces to my repertoire. My Creamy Lemon Fettucine with Mushroom, Spinach and Pine Nuts was the first attempt and we enjoyed it so much. The recipe below is my second attempt. I think the second one is just as interesting as the Creamy Lemon Fettucine with Mushroom, Spinach and Pine Nuts. What do you think, Peoples?

Fettuccine Creamy Prawn Bacon Sauce

Fettuccine in Creamy Prawn and Bacon Sauce

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 vegetarian prawn, thawed
2 rashers of Sanitarium Bacon Style Rashers
200 grams dry fettucine
1 tablespoon butter
1 tub thickened cream
1 tablespoon chives, snipped
1 clove garlic, crushed
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

• Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a frying pan and add vegetarian prawns. Fry them on both sides and set aside.
• In the same frying pan, fry Sanitarium Bacon Style Rashers on both sides. Drain and set aside. Once Sanitarium Bacon Style Rashers are cool enough to handle cut them into small pieces.
• Meanwhile, cook fettucine according to packet instructions. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Add the butter and mix well making sure the butter is melted fully and fettucine is coated well.
• In a frying pan (or a skillet), heat the thickened cream with garlic and lemon juice. Once blended, add vegetarian prawn and Sanitarium Bacon Style Rashers. Season with salt and pepper.
• Combine fettucine and the sauce. Serve immediately with snipped chives on top.

Product Review: Quorn Southern Style Burgers


This gallery contains 3 photos.

It was a lovely surprise to find these Quorn Southern Style Burgers at Coles. Now, Woolworths carry them, too. These vegetarian friendly burgers are wrapped in a crunchy, southern style pepper coating (breading) and made with mycoprotein like other Quorn … Continue reading

Spinach with Eggs or Yumurtalı Ispanak

I have recently introduced my husband to this fantastic Turkish dish called Yumurtalı Ispanak (Spinach with Eggs). Now he keeps asking for it. Yes, I know; I created this monster. Anyway, this is a good example of Turkish comfort food and I sometimes crave it myself too.

The day I made the decision to make Spinach and Eggs, though, I didn’t have any spinach in my fridge –neither did onion. So, on my way back from my singing lesson the other day, I popped in to our local supermarket and grabbed some spinach and onion.

spinach eggs

There are a few different varieties of this dish back home. One of them uses mincemeat which can be substituted with vegetarian mince easily. Some people love it with chilli flakes and cumin and sometimes it is eaten with garlic yogurt, too. What I have here, however, just plain Spinach and Eggs.

Spinach with Eggs or Yumurtalı Ispanak
Serves 2


2 bunches English spinach
1 medium brown onion, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

• Wash the spinach in cold water a few times until all the dirt is washed away. Discard the stems and chop roughly.
• Peel the onion and chop.
• Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable of in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until the onion is completely soft. Add the spinach and cook until it starts to wilt. Season with salt and pepper.
• Create two holes for eggs and break them into the holes. I usually try and spread the egg white as it binds the spinach nicely. And when it is time to serve the dish it is a lot easier to lift it with a spatula like a galette or omelette. Put the lid on and cook until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still soft.
• Sprinkle with extra black pepper and serve immediately.

Restaurant Review: Bentley Restaurant and Bar, Sydney

Vegetarian degustation menu with wine pairing is becoming a bit of a theme for me and my husband. Especially, when it comes to celebrating our birthdays –which are only a day apart. This year, we decided to have our birthday dinner at Bentley’s.

The restaurant is located on the corner of Pitt and Hunter Streets in Sydney CBD. Although Bentley is attached to Radisson Hotel, it is actually a separate entity, meaning operating independently. Bentley is also the sister restaurant to Yellow and Monopole –Yellow being the fully vegetarian one in Potts Point. We are thinking of trying it soon. When we do, I’ll let you know Peoples…

The Place
As you enter, there is the bar on street level with almost-open kitchen where all the magic happening. The dining area of the restaurant is at mezzanine level. Arched windows and high ceiling tell me that it’s an old building. However, the décor definitely has a more contemporary feel to it. I absolutely adore the coloured glass lamps and black tubes, criss-crossing from the ceiling and creating a dramatic effect.

The Food
This was not our first time at Bentley’s; we celebrated our wedding anniversary here two years ago with another 8-course vegetarian degustation menu. The memory of a particular onion reduction stayed with me forever. We also pop in every now and then just for a glass of wine or two because their wine list is sensational.

Here’s the menu of the night:


Carot + Chamomile + Buttermilk + Grapefruit
2015 The Wine Farm ‘Pinot Gris Field Blend’, Gippsland Victoria
Citrus Quartet

Caramelized Macadamia + Mexican Cucumber + Macadamia Milk
2014 Thibaud Boudignon Anjou Blanc Chenin Blanc, Loirc France
Cucumber + Celery + Green Tea

Roasted Eshallot + Black Garlic + Nigella
2013 Weingut Huber Weisser Burgunder, Baden Germany
Darjeeling + Grilled Citrus + Honey

King Oyster Mushroom + Pickled Enoki + Eggplant + Broccoli
2013 Marechal Auxey-Duresses Pinot Noir, Burgundy France
Beetroot + Bayleaf

Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke + Pickled Shimeji + Hay Oil
2014 I Fabbri ‘Lamole’Chianti Classico Sangiovese, Tuscany ltaly
Cherry Varenya

Heirloom Zucchini + Broad Bean + Puffed Rice + Jobs Tears
2013 Dalwhinne Moonambel Cabemet, Pyrenees Victoria
Verjus + Smoked Apple

Yoghurt + Black Olive + Lemonade Fruit
2012 Bemabeleva ‘Cantocuerdas’ Moscatel, Madrid Spain
Licorice Fizz

Violet lce-Cream + Gocoa Honeycomb + Blueberry
2013 Royal Tokaji Co, ‘Late Harvest Furmint Blend, Tokaj Hungary
Buttermilk + Wattleseed + West lndian Spice

Before the menu above was served, our dinner started with complimentary bread and butter, followed by Parmesan Puffs and Smoked Roast Potato with Cream Cheese and Chives.


Of course, we didn’t touch the bread and butter despite being very tasty. Experience talking here Peoples; bread and butter fill you up!


Carot + Chamomile + Buttermilk + Grapefruit (above) paired with bio-dynamic 2015 The Wine Farm ‘Pinot Gris Field Blend’ from Gippsland Victoria. Wine was quite clean, fresh and the citrus in it cut through buttermilk.


Caramelized Macadamia + Mexican Cucumber + Macadamia Milk
Browned lettuce with a touch of fennel, caramelised macadamia nuts, and Mexican cucumber, all drizzled with macadamia milk. Don’t tell Donald Trump about Mexican cucumbers; he might try and build a wall around them. The dish was paired with 2014 Thibaud Boudignon Anjou Blanc Chenin Blanc, Loire France. Anjou is one of my favourite regions, by the way. This one was particularly rich and fruity with a dry finish that goes on forever at the back of the palate and strong acid cuts through macadamia milk.


Roasted Eshallot + Black Garlic + Nigella (above) paired with 2013 Weingut Huber Weisser Burgunder, Baden Germany. In this dish, the sweetness of eschallot is balanced by the tartness of nigella sauce. I thought, the nigella sauce was very much like Turkish olive paste, just different texture.


King Oyster Mushroom + Pickled Enoki + Eggplant + Broccoli (above) paired with 2013 Marechal Auxey-Duresses Pinot Noir, Burgundy France. The broth in this is made from fenugreek, coffee and aniseed. And that purple crisp on top is made of eggplant. As for the wine… It was the first red wine of the night. It was quite barnyardy with a very dry finish.


Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke + Pickled Shimeji + Hay Oil (above) paired with 2014 I Fabbri ‘Lamole’ Chianti Classico Sangiovese, Tuscany Italy. We are a huge fan of chianti. This one was old school chianti which went incredibly well with Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes. Bentley’s seems to be the only place they cook Jerusalem artichoke as I have never seen it at any other restaurant’s menu.

BentleyHeirloom Zucchini + Broad Bean + Puffed Rice + Jobs Tears (above) paired with 2013 Dalwhinne Moonambel Cabernet, Pyrenees Victoria. What I really enjoyed about this dish is that the mixture of textures; some crunchy like those zucchini crisps on top, some soft like rice puffs and the freshness of the broth is to die for. Cabernet was an excellent match, too.


Yoghurt + Black Olive + Lemonade Fruit (above) paired with 2012 Bernabeleva ‘Cantocuerdas’ Moscatel, Madrid Spain. This was absolutely sensational! Lemonade fruits is somewhere between lemon and orange. Moscatel from Spain is an absolute palate cleanser. Now we are being prepared for dessert…


Violet lce-Cream + Cocoa Honeycomb + Blueberry (above) paired with 2013 Royal Tokaji Co, ‘Late Harvest Furmint Blend, Tokaj Hungary. This was the lightest, fluffiest ice cream I have ever had in my life. By the way, those two sticks in the photo are meringue.

The Service
At Bentley, you see and experience attention to detail everywhere. The moment you enter the premises, you are greeted by a staff member. You may get served by different waiters/waitresses throughout the night but that doesn’t break the flow.

This time around, the service –and the amount of wine—was well paced over three hours and eight courses. The highlight of the service was for me, sommelier Marelius. He is from Norway and has an elegant way of explaining various elements of each glass of wine, regions, production or wine growing techniques and why they are paired with certain dishes. Thank you, Marelius.

Overall, the food at Bentley’s is innovative (even for vegetarians). It shows you what’s possible. I absolutely enjoy the incredible harmony of contrast flavours served with an artistic presentation.

Special Note: One of VegFusion Facebook page followers, Adriana Wall, informed me that Bentley Restaurant and Bar also has a full vegan degustation for those who don’t eat dairy or eggs. She says “It is a wonderful restaurant. It’s been our special occasion restaurant for years and when my partner and I turned from being vegetarian to vegan it was fantastic to still be catered for with the enthusiasm and exceptional dishes Bentley Bar has for alternative diets.”

Bentley Restaurant and Bar can be found at this address:
27 O’Connell Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: (02) 8214 0505

Recipe: The Mighty Lemon Coconut Slice

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading The Dalai Lama’s Cat and The Art of Purring by David Michie. It was my lazy Sunday read. In the book, “Mrs. Trinci, Serena and Lobsang were sitting on stools at the kitchen counter, sipping mugs of tea and munching on coconut slice that Mrs. Trinci had brought with her.” That was the moment coconut slice entered my life. Well, the idea of it. I had to find the recipe. John came to my help as he has been brought up with lemon coconut slice. So, he found one recipe and I found one, too. After trying both recipes and adjusting lamington tin size etc. I have come up with these beauties.

lemon coconut slice

As for the book… The Dalai Lama’s Cat and The Art of Purring is the second one from the series. The first one is The Dalai Lama’s Cat. There is another one in the series which came after The Dalai Lama’s Cat and The Art of Purring: The Dalai Lama’s Cat and The Art of Meow. I haven’t got it yet but I’m sure I will. They are all available from Amazon.

Lemon Coconut Slice

80g unsalted butter
250g sweetened condensed milk (about ¾ cup)
250g milk arrowroot biscuits (or Marie biscuits)
1 cup fine desiccated coconut
Juice of 1 lemon
Grated lemon zest from one lemon

Ingredients for Lemon Frosting:
240g pure icing sugar
60g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons desiccated coconut

• Grease and line a rectangular Lamington tin with baking paper (mine is 30 x 20.5 x 3 cm). Make sure you have enough room for overhang all around –it makes it easier to lift the slices up before they are cut into squares.
• Crush biscuits in a food processor very finely and place into a large bowl. Add coconut and grated lemon rind. Mix well.
• Melt butter in in a saucepan on medium heat until completely melted. Alternatively, microwave it. Add melted butter, condensed milk and lemon juice to the biscuit mixture. Mix thoroughly until well combined. Press into the prepared tin and place into the fridge.
• Meanwhile, whisk the icing sugar, room temperature butter and lemon juice in a bowl until creamy and ‘frosting-like’ – if the frosting is too thick to spread, add a little more lemon juice.
• Spread the frosting over the slice, sprinkle with the extra coconut and place back into the fridge to set completely. Cut into slices.

Recipe Note: Lemon Coconut Slices can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

lemon coconut slice