Make Ahead

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

March  7, 2010
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
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

Test Kitchen Notes

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&M —The 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
In This Recipe
  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 :)
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Shayma Saadat is a cookery teacher, food writer, stylist and photographer who focuses on the food of her heritage - Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, which she refers to as Silk Route cuisine. Shayma lives in Toronto with her husband and son. You can follow her culinary journey on Instagram @SpiceSpoon.