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Food for Thought

Claudia Roden


Sketch in A Coffee-House, Constantinople, Digital ID 85986, New York Public LibraryClaudia Roden is the subject of Jane Kramer’s wonderful profile in this week’s food-themed New Yorker. (great audio clip here.) Roden is an expert in many cuisines and her cookbooks are essentially fail-proof. I use her Book of Middle Eastern Food all the time, as well as the encyclopedic Book of Jewish Food. The latter covers both Ashkenazic and Sephardic cuisine in detail, and is also a wonderful history of Jewish cultures from around the world. Her most recent book, Arabesque, is gorgeous and is a new addition to the Library’s collection.My favorite Roden recipe comes from the Book of Middle Eastern Food, and it couldn’t be simpler to make. It’s a classic Turkish egg dish called Cilbir. I found a beautiful photograph (and nearly identical recipe) of the dish at Almost Turkish - a food blog of Turkish cuisine.




Cilbir - Turkish Poached Eggs with Yogurt
(adapted from A Book of Middle Eastern Food)
6 eggs
1T. vinegar
1 1/4 - 2 c. yogurt
4T. butter
1T. paprika

Use fresh eggs. Poach them in the usual way. A good method for poaching eggs is to dip them, still in their shells, in boiling water for a few seconds so as to set a thin layer of the white nearest the shell. This will prevent the egg white from spreading too much. Break each egg into a cup and slide into another pan of boiling water to which a tablespoon of vinegar and some salt have been added. Remove the pan from the heat and leave it, covered, for 4 minutes. Then remove the eggs with a perforated spoon. Do not attempt to poach more than 2 eggs at a time.
Arrange the poached eggs on a hot serving dish.
Beat the yogurt with salt (I add a clove or two of minced garlic as well -RF) and pour some over each egg. Melt the butter and stir in the paprika. Dribble over the yogurt and serve.


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Cilbir (pronounced

Cilbir (pronounced "chylbyr") is one of my father's favorites. The recipe should include at least two cloves of crushed garlic. When we were kids, we would have this only on Sundays when we spent the day at home. You did not want to go out to public with garlic on your breath! Ahmet Toprak ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Director, Turkish Radio, San Francisco

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