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

By • March 7, 2010 87 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&MThe Editors

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 :)

More Great Recipes: Vegetables|Appetizers|Olive Oil

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Comments (87) Questions (2)


7 months ago SallyBR

I suppose that should read Total Fage? ;-)


9 months ago JanieMac

I think it would be fine the next day, though maybe not so aesthetically pleasing if your yogurt starts to separate. We have never had any left over for the next day!


9 months ago Kristie

Can this be made early? The day before?


9 months ago Texas chicki

Yes, but you might need to add milk to get it back to that creamy consistency.


10 months ago Texas chicki

This is a great recipe! It's simple to make and is great served warm or cold. I didn't have walnuts so I used walnut oil to drizzle over the dip


about 1 year 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


over 1 year ago Fiona Rattray

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


over 1 year ago Nancy

Nancy is a trusted home cook.

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!


over 1 year 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!


over 1 year 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.


over 2 years 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.


about 2 years 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.


over 2 years 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!


over 2 years ago Bakezoid

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


over 2 years ago JanieMac

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


over 2 years 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!


over 3 years ago serenity0055

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


over 3 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.


over 3 years ago ubs2007

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


almost 4 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.


over 4 years ago hennef7

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


over 4 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!