Those who are familiar with Turkish eggs, (see my article on 7 Dials), may agree with me that the eggs and yoghurt in a bowl are rather like eggs in yoghurt soup and become almost inedible without transferring onto toast. This observation formed the basis of my adaptation – which is to put the yoghurt and egg directly on toast. I’ve also thickened the yoghurt with ricotta, which I find more palatable.
NB: The chilli oil is not hard to make and will keep long enough to sate any protracted cravings for Turkish eggs. However, it is also very easy to buy this oil, so don’t be put off making these eggs because you don’t have the oil. Further, you want chilli ‘oil’ not sauce, the kind they offer at the table in pizza restaurants.
1. Make the yoghurt. Combine the yoghurt and ricotta in a bowl and whisk vigorously to smooth the ricotta. NB: let the yoghurt mix warm a little from the fridge.
2. Poach the egg. Here’s my method: Use any kind of pan and fill it with about an inch of boiling water, then add a good glug of vinegar and a large pinch of salt. Set the temperature to create a very gentle simmer and add the egg. Then stop what you are doing and concentrate on the egg. Any distractions may risk an imperfect egg. After a couple of minutes, use a spatula to gently coax the setting egg from the bottom of the pan. To ensure the top is cooked, either tip water over the yolk with a spoon, turn the egg over, or use a lid (providing it is regularly checked and the water does not start boiling). Finally, lift the egg out of the pan with a slotted spatula and set it over a cloth to allow excess water to drain away.
3. Assemble the eggs. Toast the bread (don’t use butter), add a couple of spoonfuls of yoghurt mix and push it down with the spoon, creating a yogurt ‘nest’ for the egg. Add the egg on top of the yoghurt and pour over a generous amount of chilli oil, garnish with chopped chives.
Note: For a more pronounced taste of the Levant, sprinkle over some garlic powder and cumin and replace chopped chives with chopped dill.
To make chilli oil
Chop the fresh and dried chillies and the garlic and add to a pan with the oils. (Check the heat of your chillies, if they are very hot omit the seeds and inner membranes). Use a heat diffuser and very gently confit the garlic and chillies for about 30 minutes. This really does need to be gentle so that the garlic does not burn. Add the paprika, stir and let the oil cool a little. Blend using a stick blender or small procesor. (Exercise due caution – this stuff is hot and will stain your clothes and generally make a bit of a mess). Strain the mix using a fine sieve. If you want a clearer oil, pass through muslin. Pour the oil into a sterilized jar. You could also add herbs, garlic or dried chilli to the jar for both visual effect and to flavour the oil (add them to the oil mix at the end of cooking to sterilize and transfer to a clean plate before blending the oil). After straining, you will be left with a red sludge. Do not throw this away, if it contains chilli seeds push the sludge through the strainer again into a separate bowl. You will be left with a garlic and chilli puree which is delicious. Keep this in the fridge and use as a condiment – it will make anything taste better.