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.

Haydari (Turkish Yoghurt Dip)


Haydari is a Turkish yoghurt meze. Herbed and spiced yoghurt, so to speak. There is another variety of it which uses both yoghurt and feta cheese. The recipe below uses yoghurt only. But, I know how to make cheesy one, too. So, I will publish that one as well as soon as I have the photo. Stay tuned, Peoples…

Haydari is made from very thick, strained yoghurt. In Australia, a yoghurt that ‘thick’ is very difficult to find. So, I use Farmers Union Greek Style Natural Yoghurt. It is gelatine free and does the job nicely. I also want my Haydari is a little bit more spreadable. I must admit, real Haydari looks as if you would need knife and fork to eat.

I do have a vegan version of Haydari here on VegFusion, by the way. I remember substituting real yoghurt with Tofutti Sour Supreme and lemon juice. It is close but still not quite the same. Anyway, you can find Vegan Haydari recipe here.

Haydari (Turkish Yoghurt Dip) is very easy to make and is a great addition to any meze platter. Here’s the recipe…

Haydari (Turkish Yoghurt Dip)

1 cup Farmer’s Union Greek yoghurt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon Turkish ground sweet paprika (Use Hungarian sweet paprika if you can’t get Turkish one)
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried spearmint
½ tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt to taste

• In a small bowl, mix together yoghurt, olive oil, crushed garlic, cumin, sweet paprika, black pepper, dried mint and parsley.
• Salt to taste and serve.

Serving Suggestions
Haydari is served along with other mezes as part of a meze platter. You could also serve Haydari with:
Gardein Seven Grain Crispy Tenders
• Fresh bread (preferably Turkish bread)
• Toasted rustic bread
• Corn Fritters
Mücver (Zucchini Fritters)
• Crudités
• Water crackers
• Pitta bread

Afiyet olsun Peoples!

Deviled Eggs with Avocado

deviled eggs avocado

Deviled Eggs with Avocado
Deviled eggs are simple yet elegant starters and can be added to any type of appetizer platter without much trouble. They just play well with the other kids. They are also easy to make. Especially, if you boil and refrigerate the eggs overnight.

The classic deviled egg recipe uses the actual hard-boiled egg yolks alone, mixed with mayonnaise, herbs and spices. Of course, there is always room for improvisation. And, that’s exactly what I did last time with my deviled eggs. I added avocado to the mixture!

Deviled Eggs with Avocado

6 large free range eggs
1 small avocado (ripe)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh chives, snipped

• Place the eggs in a saucepan and fill with enough cool water to cover the eggs by 3 to 5cm (an inch or two). Place the pan over high heat. Once the water reaches a boil, remove the pan from heat, cover and let stand for 10 minutes.
• To peel the eggs, tap the eggs gently against the counter to crack the shell in a few places, then submerge in ice water for at least 1 minute. Then, peel the eggs.
• Place the peeled eggs on a large, flat plate and slice the eggs down their length, from tip to bottom. Remove the yolks by gently squeezing the eggs to separate the yolks from the whites. Then, use your fingers to remove the yolks. Transfer all the yolks to a mixing bowl.
• Arrange the empty whites on a platter, cut-side up.
• Place the avocado on cutting board. Insert knife into stem end; slice into halves lengthwise to the pit, turning avocado while slicing. Remove knife blade; twist both halves to pull apart. Scoop out the inside of the avocado halves and add it to the egg yolks.
• Mash the yolks and avocado with a fork until they are completely smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
• Transfer the filling to a plastic bag or piping bag. If you don’t have a real piping bag, you could use a zip lock bag instead. Here’s how you do it: Just scoop the filling into the zip lock bag, squeeze the filling into a corner and snip off that corner. Then squeeze the filling into the egg whites. If you have a piping bag, just pipe the filling into the cup of each egg white and around. Alternatively, scoop the filling into the egg whites with a spoon.
• Sprinkle with fresh chives over the top of each egg before serving. That’s it! Enjoy!

A Middle Eastern Classic: Babaganoush

A Middle Eastern Classic BabaganoushA Middle Eastern Classic: Babaganoush

Babaganoush is a Middle Eastern classic and it is one of those mezes I learnt from a neighbour back in Turkey. Thank you Asiye Teyze!

Babaganoush showcases smoking eggplant (aubergine) over flame and this is where that distinctive smoky flavour is coming from. However, you could do the same thing with barbeque. The recipe below covers both cooking methods.

A Middle Eastern Classic: Babaganoush

1 round eggplant (aubergine)
Juice of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons tahini paste
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Salt to taste
Ground sweet paprika, to decorate
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling (optional)
Pitta bread, to serve


To smoke eggplant (aubergine): Prick eggplants a few times with a fork or tip of a knife. Over a gas flame, evenly char the skin of eggplant, turning regularly. Transfer to a plate and when cool enough to handle, peel the skin. Drop the eggplant into a bowl filled with cold water. Wait for a few minutes and then squeeze out excess water with your hand.
• Chop smoked eggplant finely and transfer into a bowl. Add lemon juice, tahini paste, crushed garlic, cumin and salt. Stir until smooth and well combined. If the mixture is too thick gradually add a little water. Drizzle with olive oil if you like and serve with pitta bread.

How to Barbeque Eggplant (Aubergine)
The rules are the same as smoking eggplant: Prick the eggplant a few times with a fork or tip of a knife. Place the eggplant directly over the flame and barbeque, turning to char on all sides until the skin blisters and the eggplant is completely soft. Remove from the heat with a pair of tongs. Allow to cool and peel off the blackened skin. After this stage, follow the recipe.

Easy Eggplant (Aubergine) Dip or Patlıcan Ezme

Easy Eggplant (Aubergine) Dip or Patlıcan Ezme

Easy Eggplant (Aubergine) Dip or Patlıcan Ezme
Many of us don’t have the luxury and convenience of having gas cooking facility in our kitchens. And that on its own, makes things a little complicated because if you don’t have gas then you don’t have total heat control which is really important in cooking. I mean, ask any chef; they all prefer gas.

The other problem with not having gas is no gas, no smoked eggplant –also known as aubergine. So how are we going to make babaganoush or any other meze which uses smoked eggplant then? Maybe on a barbeque? Still, you may not have the weather to go outside and smoke your eggplant (aubergine), come back inside and carry on cooking. Well, if that’s your reality like it is mine then I have the second best thing to smoked eggplant (aubergine) for you.

Recipe Notes:
• Eggplant (aubergine) is an interesting vegetable: you cannot boil it or steam it; it gets mushy. However, it responds well to baking, stewing, smoking and deep frying. Since smoking is out of the question for me and baking is a drier method which doesn’t work in a meze situation—neither does stewing here—I’ll take deep frying method, thank you very much.
• Eggplant can be very bitter. To get rid of its bitterness, soak the eggplant chunks in salted water for at least 30 minutes—the longer the better. Salt will draw out the bitter juice.
• You will also need to be careful with deep frying eggplant as it transforms itself into an oil-loving sponge if you’re not careful. To avoid that, sprinkle the eggplants with salt just before deep frying. This’ll stop them from drinking all your frying oil.

Easy Eggplant (Aubergine) Dip or Patlıcan Ezme

1 large round eggplant
1 tablespoon Greek style plain yoghurt
1 large clove garlic, crushed
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper

• Peel the eggplant and cut into small pieces. Soak them in generously salted water for at least half an hour with a plate on top –this’ll stop them from floating above the water.
• Rinse the eggplant well under running water and dry the pieces carefully. Heat the oil in a deep fryer and fry the eggplant until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper.
• Place the yoghurt and eggplant in a small food processor with garlic and whizz it up until it is dip like, scraping the sides every now and then to achieve more even texture.
• Place processed eggplant in a bowl. Combine with crushed garlic, lemon juice and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
• Serve with crusty bread.

Stuffed Eggs with Green Olives and Tartare Sauce

Stuffed Eggs Here’s another dinner party favourite. I make these Stuffed Eggs with Green Olive and Tartare Sauce as a starter and they go well with the rest of my meze platters.

Stuffed Eggs with Green Olives and Tartare Sauce
4 large eggs, hard-boiled
8 pitted green olives, chopped
2 tablespoon tartare sauce
½ teaspoon ground sweet paprika

• Peel the eggs and halve them lengthways. Carefully remove the egg yolks.
• Place 2 egg yolks in a small food processor and don’t do anything with them just yet.
• Place the other 2 yolks in a small bowl and mash with a fork. Add the olives and tartare sauce. Mix well.
• Fill the eggs with this mixture and sprinkle them with ground paprika.
• Process the other 2 egg yolks in the food processor until they resemble yellow snow.
• Sprinkle the yellow snow over the stuffed eggs and dust them with ground paprika. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes:
• Eggs can be boiled and refrigerated a day ahead. Actually, it is better this way as the eggs get harder which subsequently makes them easier to halve and also you cut some preparation time on the day of your dinner party.
• Soak the olives a day before, too. You get rid of extra salt by doing that. Even a few hours of soaking makes a huge difference.
• You could substitute ground paprika with smoked paprika for extra flavour or just use straight forward ground pepper instead.

Cucumber Cups with Cream Cheese and Fresh Dill


Cucumber Cups Cream Cheese Fresh Dill appetizer recipes

Cucumber Cups with Cream Cheese and Fresh Dill

Cucumber Cups with Cream Cheese and Fresh Dill
These cucumber cups make excellent appetizer/starter especially during hot summer evenings.

1 telegraph cucumber
80 gram cream cheese
2 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
4 cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

• Cut the cucumber into 8 pieces, carve out the softer part and turn them upside down a cookie rack. Set aside.
• Whip the cream cheese until smooth and mix it with ground black pepper and dill.
• Fill each cucumber with the cheese mix and top them up with a piece of cherry tomato.
• Serve and enjoy.

Spicy Bean Dip, VegFusion Style

Summer is nearly here in Sydney. The days are quite pleasant at the moment; I even managed to spend some time outside during NaNoWriMo, writing my first draft at our front yard with my dog sitting beside me and doing his neighbourhood watch thing. When the weather is better I crave for dips and lighter, fresher foods in general. So this recipe below is the product of a hot day.

Spicy Bean Dip, VegFusion Style

Spicy Bean Dip

1 tin (420 g) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp (heaped) Turkish hot pepper paste (home style if possible)
1 large clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
Salt to taste

Crudités: Carrot and celery sticks

• Place the beans, water, chilli paste, crushed garlic, cumin, coriander in a food processor and whiz it up on high speed.
• Transfer the mixture in a small serving bowl and serve with crudités.

Note: For extra spiciness, sprinkle the dip with chilli flakes.

Nilgiri’s Masala Dosai

nilgiri's masala dosai (866x515)Photo credit: John Slaytor

Peoples, this is really cool: I have Nilgiri’s masala dosai recipe for you, with courtesy of Ajoy Joshi. Ajoy was kind enough to give me permission to publish his own recipe here. Although we tried dosais at other restaurants including some authentic ones both in Australia and in India, we still think that Nilgiri’s dosais are the BEST. We love them so much even Dad started making them at home after taking one of Ajoy’s cooking classes a few years ago.

But first things first, let me begin by telling you what dosais are: They are thin, crisp on the outside, moist on the inside crepes made out of rice and black lentil flour. Although, there are some plain varieties, these ones are rolled and stuffed with spiced potatoes with mustard seeds and fresh curry leaves and traditionally served with sambhar (lentil broth) and coconut chutney.

It’s a lot of work to make dosais but if you think it’s too much hassle to make your own, masala dosai is on both Nilgiri’s and Tellicherry’s menus. For those of you who would like a little bit of challenge, here’s the recipes:


3 parts medium to coarse rice flour
1 part split black lentil flour
Water for the batter
Salt to taste
Vegetable oil (for vegan version) or Ghee (clarified butter), to pan-fry the dosai

• Mix the rice and lentil flours with just enough cold water to form o thick fine paste.
• Add salt to taste and leave the batter in a warm place overnight to ferment.
• Mix the batter thoroughly the next morning.
• Heat the griddle till it is hot.
• Pour a ladle of the batter in the centre of the griddle and spread evenly in concentric circles till it reaches the edges of the griddle.
• Baste the dosai with ghee or oil and cook on medium heat till the dosai is golden brown.
• Place a filling of your choice in the centre of the dosai and roll or fold as desired.
• Serve hot with fresh coconut chutney and sambhar.

Potato Pallya (Masala for Dosai)

20-25 ml vegetable oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp split chickpea lentils
1 tbsp split black lentils
4-5 whole dry red chillies
¼ tsp asafoetida powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 sprig fresh curry leaves
2 medium-sized onions, sliced
Salt to taste
1 kg potatoes, boiled, peeled and roughly mashed
½ bunch fresh coriander leaves, chopped

• Heat oil in a thick-bottomed pan.
• Add the black mustard seeds and allow to splutter.
• Immediately add the two lentils and cook on a medium heat stirring constantly, till the lentils turn a light golden in colour.
• Add the whole dry chillies and the asafoetida powder and cook for a few moments.
• Add the turmeric powder and the fresh curry leaves and cook for a few moments.
• Add the sliced onions and salt and cook till the onions turn translucent.
• Add the roughly mashed potatoes and mix well.
• Cook on a medium heat for a few minutes and check the seasoning.
• Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and use as a filling in the ‘Masala Dosai’.


300 gr yellow lentils or toor dal
1 tsp turmeric
500 gr tomatoes, quartered
3 medium-sized onions, diced
2 tbsp Nilgiri’s Sambhar Powder
½ tbsp tamarind concentrate
1 sprig fresh curry leaves
Salt to taste
½ bunch Fresh coriander leaves, chopped

• Cook the lentils with the turmeric in approximately 2 litres of water till soft and mushy.
• Add the tomatoes and the onions and cook further till they are soft.
• Add Nilgiri’s Sambhar Powder, tamarind concentrate, fresh curry leaves and salt to taste and bring to a boil.
• Check the seasoning, garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot.

Breaded Cauliflower with Garlic Yoghurt and Burnt Chilli Dressing

IMG_2807 (1024x768)

Can deep fried food be light and fluffy? With the help of right ingredients, the answer is yes. The “right” ingredients here are lemon juice and Pellegrino or any mineral water. Somehow, they add this lightness to a breaded and deep fried cauliflower or any other vegetable without the unbearableness. I hope you know which book/movie I’m referring to…

This recipe is originally vegetarian and it has become one of Dad’s favourite dishes during his trip to Sydney. The trick here is adding lemon juice to boiling water to blanch the cauliflower. This way, you don’t stink up the kitchen with that sulphurous smell and you keep white colour of cauliflower white, too.

Here’s the recipe:

Breaded Cauliflower with Garlic Yoghurt and Burnt Chilli Dressing

1 medium sized cauliflower, broken into florets
Juice of ½ lemon
Sunflower oil for deep-frying

2 eggs, beaten
½ cup Pellegrino
1 tbsp lemon juice
¾ cup plain flour
Bread crumbs (I use a Jewish brand which is the best I’ve tried so far: Solomon)
Salt and pepper

Garlic Yoghurt:
250 grams plain yoghurt (Greek style)
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
A little water in case yoghurt is too thick

Burnt Chilli Dressing:
15 grams butter
1 tsp dried chilli flakes

• Wash the cauliflower and break it into florets.
• Boil enough water. Add juice of ½ lemon. Drop the cauliflowers into the water and blanch for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop them from further cooking. Drain again and set aside.
• Heat the oil to 180 degrees C.
• To make the batter: mix together the flour, beaten eggs, lemon juice and Pellegrino. Season with salt and pepper and whisk until it is smooth.
• To make garlic yoghurt: mix together crushed garlic and yoghurt and add water if necessary (it should be runny but not too watery). Set aside.
• Drop blanched florets into batter first. Allow any excess to drip off and then roll into bread crumbs.
• Deep fry all of the breaded cauliflower until golden brown and place on a large flat plate lined with kitchen paper. This’ll absorb excess oil.
• Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan and add the chilli flakes. Heat it until it is slightly smoky.
• Arrange deep-fried cauliflowers on a serving plate. Cover with garlic yoghurt and drizzle with burnt butter.
• Serve warm.