Borani-ye Esfanaaj (Spinach Dip)
Borni-ye Esfanaaj, also called Mast-o Esfanaaj, is most people’s gateway dish to a class of Persian appetizers called Borani, attributed to Empress Purandokht the Great, the eldest daughter of Emperor Khosrow Parviz. Pouran and her sister, Azarmidokht, were two consecutive female monarchs that ruled over the Sassanid Empire around 630 C.E. Puran (short for purandokht) attempted to to bring stability to Persia by signing a a peace treaty with the Byzantine, the Greek continuation of the Roman Empire. She was revered for her attempts for implementing justice, lowering taxes, and minting coins. Her reign was short, as she was strangled to death a year after crowning.
Rumor has it, that Empress Puran was fond of yogurt, and her chef made her many dishes with drained yogurt and vegetables, which over time, came to be known as Borani.
Borani-ye Esfaanaj is a thick spinach dip with crushed walnuts for an added pizazz.
Ingredients (serves 4-6):
- 2 cups plain yogurt/ Greek or any other thick style
- 1.5 lbs fresh spinach
- 2 med. garlic cloves, minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 Tbs walnuts, crushed
- olive oil
Time~ 30 minutes
- Steam the spinach ’til wilted (~ 8 min). Allow to cool.
- Squeeze with your hand to drain out the liquid and chop finely.
- Saute the garlic in enough oil (~ 2-3 min).
- In a medium size bowl add the garlic, spinach and enough salt & pepper to yogurt. Mix well.
- In a frying pan dry toast the chopped walnuts on low heat (~ 5 min) to garnish.
- Sprinkle with olive oil if desired.
Serve cold Persian style with lavash (a type of naan) or pita bread. Scoop it up with chips, Western style.
Goes well with most Persian rice and stews.