What is borani?
The spinach version is called borani-e esfenaj. This fresh starter consists of yogurt and spinach flavored with garlic and onions. Walnuts are also added.
Borani is eaten cold with bread that is dipped directly into the preparation. The amount of spinach in the recipe can affect the color of the borani, so it can be more or less green. It is a very healthy and very fresh starter, particularly pleasant in the summer. It can be served as an appetizer or as an accompaniment to many other preparations such as grilled meats or vegetables.
What is the origin of borani?
According to Persian scholars, its name comes from the Sassanid porandox (pourandokht). It would have evolved over time into porani or porandox then borani. However, according to Farhang Nafisi, the name borani comes rather from a queen of Iran named Boran (630), the first woman to have reigned in Persia.
Finally, according to the Encyclopædia Iranica, the name Borani comes from the Iranian poet Boran, founder of the Abassid period. According to Shah Ismail cook Haji Mohammad Ali Bavarchi Baghdadi, anything with garlic and yogurt is called borani. No matter which vegetables you add, these can be spinach, celery or even squash. In the 13th century, spinach borani appeared in the cuisine of Damascus in Syria.
Borani is often associated with Jewish cuisine because it does not contain meat (Jews cannot associate meat with dairy products). In Iran, the Shavuot, Easter or Hanukkah festivals are invariably associated with a serving of borani.
How to make borani
To prepare a good borani, it is essential to use fresh spinach. It must be thoroughly washed, stemmed and chopped. It is cooked for ten minutes in a little olive oil with chopped onions and garlic.
Once cooked, the spinach is warmed up in a bowl to which a stirred yogurt (or Greek yogurt) is added later. Do not add yogurt to hot spinach as it may curdle and/or melt.
The seasoning is made only with salt and pepper. Thus prepared, the appetizer is reserved in the refrigerator so that it is very cold when served, which also allows it to be prepared in advance.
What are the variants of borani?
In the Yalvaç and Mecitözü regions, the borani is enriched with beans and bulgur. Turks sometimes like to add melted butter flavored with a few spices on top. It is sometimes accompanied by fresh nectarines. This dish is found in Kurdish cuisine under the name of boranîk.
Borani is close to Indian raita which, although it often consists of cucumber and yogurt, can also contain spinach. In Spain, this starter is known as alborania and is probably one of the many legacies of the al-Andalus period. It has in fact traveled to Latin America. It is also found in Greece under the name of tzatziki.
There are many variants of borani, that can contain eggplant, beets, cardoons, cucumber, celery or mint. They can be enriched with caramelized onions, spices, and finely chopped aromatic herbs.
- 2 lb fresh spinach , washed, stemmed and chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 onions , chopped
- 2 cloves garlic , chopped
- 16 oz. Greek yogurt
- 12 kernels walnut
- In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat and then add the onion. Brown gently until it becomes translucent.
- Add the garlic and mix well. Sauté for 1 minute.
- Add the spinach, mix well and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.
- When the spinach has warmed, transfer them to a bowl, add the yogurt, salt, pepper, and mix well.
- Place in the refrigerator until ready to serve and sprinkle with walnuts.