Borani Esfanaaj (Yogurt and Spinach Dip)

Spinach is possibly one of the most boring vegetables; if you don't agree, ask your children! At least, when I was a child, I found every possible excuse to skip the boiled spinach sitting at the corner of my plate. On the other hand, I devoured yogurt and so my mum always played tricks on me by mixing spinach with yogurt to convince me to eat my portion of greens.

Borani Esfanaaj, or Yogurt and Spinach Condiment is a very common Persian side-dish. It's best when the yogurt is strained and a bit sour, but as it's difficult to find that sort of a yogurt in Hong Kong, I made it with a local brand that gets at least a pass mark (with some reservations still when it comes to quality)... Well my ethnic background commands me to be very picky about dairy products! Anyway, the condiment turned out to be very creamy and nice thanks to the boiled spinach; I guess that's one of the best ways to make HK yogurt decent hehe

When I boasted about my Borani Esfanaaj to my mum the other day, she told me not to oil the spinach in water, but to heat it on its own on low heat in a covered saucepan until the spinach cooks with it's own moisture. I assume that this way, the spinach would also retain most of its taste and nutrients.

There is another version of this dish which uses grilled aubergine (eggplant) like that used in Kashk-e-Badamjan or Baba Ghanoush instead of spinach. The difference is that it has a light, smokey and wooden flavour which is great for the fans of such, but it's less creamy in comparison to this version. Next time I'll try making it and put up the recipe here.

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
  • 3 bunches spinach
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 carton yogurt
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Salt
  1. Bring 2 cups of water to boil in a saucepan.
  2. Add 1 tsp salt and 1 tbsp red wine vinegar to the water.
  3. Add spinach leaves and boil until they become soft, for approximately 5-8 minutes.
  4. Remove the water and wash the spinach once. Cool slightly, and then chop the spinach finely.
  5. Combine the spinach with garlic and yogurt. Mix thoroughly and add salt to taste. 
  6. Chill for at least one hour before serving.

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