Yoghurt & Spinach Dip, 'Borani Esfanaaj', in the Persian Manner

By • March 7, 2010 • 82 Comments

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Author Notes: A borani is a cold yoghurt-based dish from Iran. But that is a bit of a boring piece of info, right? Well, apparently, it has been said that Poorandokht, the daughter of the Sassanian Persian King Khosrow Paravaiz, loved cold yoghurt-based dishes. When she was proclaimed Queen, the name Poorani was given to yoghurt-based dishes. Later on Poorani turned into Borani. I so do like to believe this story :) I love spinach and how it melds so well with yoghurt. This creamy appetiser is lovely with some lavash (flatbread from Iran) or some crisped-up-in-the-oven whole wheat pita bread. The combination of spinach, garlic, thick & creamy yoghurt, walnuts and mint, begs for a Pinot Gris from Alsace. Promise.shayma

Food52 Review: Don’t let a little blanching stop you from making this wonderful dip. While it’s true that blanching spinach is a pain in the neck, once the water comes to a boil, the whole process is over in a minute, and then you’re well on your way to bliss. Shayma smartly heats the blanched and chopped spinach in a little garlic-scented oil and then adds more fresh garlic to the creamy, tangy dip. Our tips: Don’t worry about squeezing the spinach in step 4, unless it looks particularly soppy. Do use whole milk Greek yogurt -– the low-fat stuff will be watery and joyless. Use a wide shallow dish so you have room to spread out the dip, making a broad landing pad for the oil, mint and walnuts. And reach for your best olive oil for sprinkling over top. – A&MA&M

Serves 2-4

  • 2 packets baby (or regular) spinach, (6 oz packets)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced and divided into two separate batches.
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (not your best, but the type you use for sautéing)
  • 2 small tubs very thick, drained yoghurt- I use Greek Yoghurt, 'Total Tage', (they come in a 5.3 oz tub).
  • salt
  • dried mint for garnish (please do use dried vs. fresh mint, therein lies the beauty of this dish- the use of a woodsy, earthy dried herb)
  • handful crushed walnuts
  • your best olive oil
  1. Blanch your baby spinach.
  2. Drain well, make sure to get all the liquid out. Chop fine.
  3. Sauté 1/2 clove of garlic in 2 tbsp olive oil and add the baby spinach. Add a pinch of salt. Stir for a few minutes.
  4. Remove from stove, allow to cool, then squeeze out any excess liquid.
  5. In a bowl, add yoghurt, 1/2 clove of minced garlic, baby spinach and stir gently. Add salt to taste.
  6. Transfer to the bowl you are serving it in (I use a shallow, round bowl) and sprinkle with dried mint, crushed walnuts and a lazy trail of olive oil.
  7. Serve with lavash or whole wheat pita. And don't forget the Pinot Gris :)
Jump to Comments (82)

Tags: gluten-free, Healthy, Holidays, iranian, Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Comments (82) Questions (1)

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My_catering_(2)

4 months ago Aliwaks

This was amazing...I made it for my Game of Thrones finale dinner in my mind this went with my "Dornish" style dinner in homage to Prince Oberyon.
I cant believe it took me so long to make it after admiring it for years.. I used chard instead of spinach because that's what came in my CSA

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7 months ago Fiona Rattray

This is absolutely delicious. I followed the recipe to the letter and it came out perfectly

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8 months ago Nancy

wonderful recipe! If flavorful full fat Greek yogurt n/a: drain any plain yogurt overnight in fridge (cheesecloth or coffee filter lined strainer) and use. Thicker, tastier. Enjoy!

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8 months ago beejay45

Well, after trying this with pine nuts, I found it to be just delish. In my second batch, however, I eliminated the blanching of the baby spinach. It occurred to me as I was tossing the blanched spinach with the garlic and olive oil in that first batch, that that step would wilt the spinach without ever having blanched it. In fact, I think I prefer the flavor this way. I was afraid it might lose some of it's green, but it didn't seem to. Also, this second batch, I used a sprinkle of nutmeg when I wilted the spinach and subbed finely chopped hazelnuts for the walnuts. ;) I know, going all Italian on the recipe, but it was a very tasty alternative. I served it with thinly sliced garlic bread, but any of the other authorsuggestions would be equally good.

Thanks, again, for posting this, shayma. A recipe that you can riff on is golden!

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8 months ago Kathy Cooks

I made this yesterday for a dinner party and it turned out delish. I was unable to find full fat Greek yoghurt in our small town but used the 2%. It was too bland and used the suggestion of adding some lemon juice which helped brighten the flavors up. Also I added a lot of garlic powder to brighten it too. I may not have had to do that if I could have found the full fat yoghurt. Do try for that - Also using a really good olive oil over the top was divine. Some even commented that it made it taste very good. All in all it was very delicious. Thanks so much for this good addition to my dinner parties.

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over 1 year ago beejay45

Would blanching the walnuts really ruin the dish? I love walnuts, but the skins make the roof of my mouth blister, and I'd love to make this. I can't see how subbing any other nut, except maybe pine nus, would compare though.

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about 1 year ago carswell

I would think that pine nuts would be more than acceptable as a substitute - they have a slightly bitter quality that echoes walnuts.

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over 1 year ago Dani Renouf, RD, MSc, CDE

This is a great recipe! I made it with koufteh berenjee and grilled Persian zucchini the combination was delicious!

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over 1 year ago Amy Stromberg

Made this today with pistachios instead of walnuts & dried oregano instead of mint - it was amazing!

Stringio

over 1 year ago JanieMac

How wonderful this sounds, fully of wonderful simple things. Need to make it right now. Call it dinner.

Kabul1

over 1 year ago jifferb

I love how simple this is. And how it could be served before a dinner party or at a bbq. I didn't have any dried mint when i made this the first time but I do now and i can't wait to try it again! Fantastic recipe!

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over 2 years ago serenity0055

Is it good if made in advance? Like 9 hrs prior?

Avocados

over 2 years ago betty888

I made this for a tapas party this weekend. Really easy and super tasty. I used full-fat Greek yogurt and I do think that makes a big difference. The walnuts, mint and olive oil really elevate this to a more sophisticated level. My guests loved it.

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over 2 years ago ubs2007

Fantastic recipe! Thank you so much! Big hit with adults and kids.

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almost 3 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I just made this for a FOOD52 book launch party (!!!), and just so everyone knows, I used a pound of well drained frozen chopped spinach and a cup of Fage Greek nonfat yogurt. And while it wasn't watery and insipid (as I imagine it might have been had I not used Greek yogurt), it was missing some flavor. So I added the juice and zest of a small lemon, and it was fine. Majorly delicious actually. Just in case, like me, you're thinking that this could be the only thing on your party menu that won't shut everyone's arteries down. You can use nonfat or lowfat Greek yogurt. Just be prepared to kick in some extra flavor.

Audrey_and_sarah

over 3 years ago hennef7

I'd love to try this and have everything in my pantry except the spinach. Would frozen do in a pinch?

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over 3 years ago chez_mere

This looks really easy but delicious. I can't wait to make it this summer with fresh herbs straight from our garden. I love healthy chip dips!

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over 3 years ago cowanem

My kids, including the 5 year old polished this off within minutes. Certainly a keeper!!

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over 3 years ago LazizaBites

all of your recipes look amazing....

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almost 4 years ago Mprize

Question for you....do you chop up the spinach before adding the yogurt, etc? It looks chopped in the picture but there's nothing specific in the steps. I plan on making this over the weekend...it looks and sounds delicious.

Cari

over 3 years ago Cari

Hi Mprize,
Step 2 says to "Drain well, make sure to get all the liquid out. Chop fine."

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almost 4 years ago mosteff

absolutely delicious. if I hadn't cooked 18 other dishes for my son's birthday, I would have eaten the whole thing by myself. I can easily imagine fresh dill in this or any other seasonal fresh herbs.

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almost 4 years ago sunnyluz

Thinking about making this for a Thanksgiving appetizer. Would it keep until Thursday if I made it on Tuesday? And would pine nuts substitute for walnuts - my husband is allergic to the latter?

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about 4 years ago enbe

Made this for a party last night and it was a huge hit! We made it as an appetizer with a few other dips and there was just enough for our ~20 guests. Next time I'll use something crunchier than pita bread. Great recipe!!!!!

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about 4 years ago Aliwaks

Have a HUGE bunch of mint drying in the sun right now, this will be it's first use.

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over 4 years ago emmanation

I love that you specifically call for dried mint. I have a black thumb when it comes to herbs. Overall this looks stellar- yum!

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over 4 years ago TanyaVS

I'd just like to say that I LOVE this recipe. Since I found it, I make it constantly just for myself and everyone I make it for loves it too. Great for parties. Or I like it with Wheat Thins for an easy lunch. Just wanted to thank you for an excellent staple recipe and the best way to eat super healthy spinach!

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over 4 years ago lpcooks

I made this last night and was rushing around so I completely messed up the recipe. I steamed the spinach and threw it in with the yogurt before I read the step about sauteeing it with oil and garlic. So I just chopped up some garlic and sauteed that with oil and mixed it in. It was still delicious and everyone was raving! Thanks so much for the wonderful recipe!

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over 4 years ago Redcolhead

Beautiful picture, look's delicious!...would thawed frozen spinach work?

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over 4 years ago coffeefoodwritergirl

Congrats Shayma! What a wonderful recipe..

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over 4 years ago spinthebottleny

Congrats! Alsatian Pinot Gris would indeed be a good match, but I couldn't find one. I think the PG from Alto-Adige would work nicely too.

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over 4 years ago shayma

Thank you. A Pinot Grigio with hints of pear and mineral notes will pair well with this, too.

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over 4 years ago shayma

OMG I just realised whom i am writing to- Sasha! and look at me giving *you* advice on wine. when i tell my father (an economist, like me) smthg about economics, he jokingly says, 'teaching grandma to suck eggs, are we?' *going red* tee hee

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over 4 years ago student epicure

congrats! can't wait to try this weekend!

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over 4 years ago avantgurlnyc

i will make soon

The_girls

over 4 years ago Paula

Yum, I cannot wait to make this! Greek yogurt and flatbread and pinot grigio on tonight's shopping list! I'm also thinking my toddler will love it in her lunchbox tomorrow. Thanks!

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over 4 years ago shayma

aww so cute! s/he eats greens? fantastic.

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over 4 years ago shayma

sorry, you said 'her'. i meant 'she'. :)

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

We had this tonight and loved it. I used it in my best spring lamb entry. Thank you!

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over 4 years ago shayma

i would love to pair this with lamb, too, what a wonderful idea. thank you!

Henrykiss

over 4 years ago arielleclementine

we had this last night and all agreed it was the best spinach dip we'd ever had. i love, loved it! thank you so much for sharing the recipe. i'll make it for years to come :)

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over 4 years ago shayma

thank you. i do love boranis- there are so many different ones in the Persian kitchen- i like the beet one as well. so kind you are :)

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over 4 years ago dymnyno

But, the big question for me is "what wine do you serve with it?"

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over 4 years ago shayma

see number 7 :) i like a pinot gris ;)

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over 4 years ago shayma

thanks for the encouragement and 'thumbs up', all. hope everyone's having a great weekend!

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over 4 years ago lastnightsdinner

I'm making this tomorrow and I can't wait. Brought home a big bag of organic locally grown spinach and fresh yogurt from our farmers' market. :D

Hib_kitchen

over 4 years ago MyCommunalTable

Congrats and I will keep this on my favorite recipes.

Mrs._larkin_370

over 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Looks and sounds delicious! I wonder if I can dry my own mint??

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over 4 years ago shayma

thank you, yes, it would be so wonderful if you dried your own mint. i buy mine at the Persian Grocer's in DC- it is so so good, but what's better than having your own homemade herbs?

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over 4 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

a spectacular and unusual recipe, shayma. i can't wait to add this to my next cocktail party appetizer table. beautiful photo!

Ls

over 4 years ago gluttonforlife

Hooray for Persian princesses and their delicious dips!

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over 4 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I loved this dish as soon as you posted it and can't wait to try it. congratulations!

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over 4 years ago Cara Eisenpress

Shayma--yum! congratulations!!

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over 4 years ago Sasa and Jan

You have our vote. Just made this last weekend and it was big success. Congratulations!

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over 4 years ago shayma

my gosh, this is such an honour. honestly! thank you so much for the kind words, everyone. and thank you, Amanda and Merrill for creating this community for us home cooks!

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over 4 years ago amreen

Yay Shama! So glad this was selected! It looks delish and perfect for the dinner party I'm going to this weekend. Happy Persian New Year :D

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over 4 years ago Lizthechef

Your recipe looks wonderful - as soon as you posted it, I knew it was a "keeper"! Good luck!

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over 4 years ago TasteFood

This sounds delicious and intriguing with the dried mint. I bet it's good with pine nuts too. Congratulations!

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over 4 years ago Jennifer Ann

Congratulations Shayma! This look wonderful, and will go on my short list of recipes to try.

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over 4 years ago NakedBeet

Shayma! Congrats, so well deserved!!!

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over 4 years ago thirschfeld

WOOOOO HOOOOO! Shayma, congrats.

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

Congrats shayma! spinach dip is one of my favorite things.

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over 4 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Another two great selections for finalists this week! I've got all the ingredients in my frig to try this. It looks really yummy.

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over 4 years ago Culinista Annouchka

This looks amazing, will definitely make it! Thank you for the great recipe

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over 4 years ago shayma

Thanks to the lovely (and loving, dare I say!) Food52 community, we get to share lots of wonderful recipes/stories/experiences. Yay for Food52. Buon weekend, all.

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over 4 years ago NakedBeet

Love this dip and the story!

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over 4 years ago shayma

I think I am in love with thick yoghurts- love it with everything. Thanks so much.

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over 4 years ago cheese1227

Great dish.

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over 4 years ago shayma

Thank you. I am grateful to the great feminist Queen, Poorandokht for introducing boranis into our cuisine.

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over 4 years ago thirschfeld

this will be on our table beginning tonight. looks great

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over 4 years ago shayma

ah, many thanks!

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over 4 years ago shayma

Thanks so much, girls. Dairy and spinach, good for you, right? ;)

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over 4 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

sounds wonderful!

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over 4 years ago shayma

thanks, doc.

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over 4 years ago lastnightsdinner

This sounds fabulous, and I just happen to have everything I need to make it (our favorite local creamery makes incredible natural yogurt that drains to the consistency and tang of Greek-style)! Thanks, Shayma!

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over 4 years ago shayma

How amazing, nothing like being able to buy yoghurt from a local creamery. Most welcome :)

Winnie100

over 4 years ago WinnieAb

Shayma,
This looks really seriously delicious!

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over 4 years ago shayma

Thank you so much.

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over 4 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Your recipes are always so thoughtful and delicious, photos are excellent, and I love the stories. Yet another Shayma recipe saved to mine!!!

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over 4 years ago shayma

You're very kind. I would like to believe that this dish has something to do with a Persian queen! Women rule the kitchen, no offence to our male friends on Food 52! ;)

Stringio

over 4 years ago testkitchenette

How I love reading recipes and food traditions from Iran! I have made this before but haven't thought about it in quite awhile. Your photo is delicious.

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over 4 years ago shayma

Thank you, it's thanks to a little point and shoot and good sunlight :)