Spinach Borani

Spinach, yogurt, and candied barberries combine for this creamy and savory dip popular in Iranian, Persian, and Turkish cuisines.

Spinach Borani

Ellen Silverman

Active Time:
50 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 10 mins
6 servings

Nasim Alikhani, the chef and owner of Sofreh in New York City, shares this recipe for borani, a creamy dip that she serves as part of a feast for Nowruz, the Persian New Year, each spring. Her borani is particularly inspired by spinach dip, with its thick texture and verdant, spinach-forward flavor. A topping of tart and tangy candied barberries (also made to garnish Alikhani’s Kuku Sabzi top the dip to balance the yogurt’s richness. (Dried barberries can be purchased online at foodsofnations.com.)

This spinach borani is well spiced with an earthy bitterness from turmeric and balanced by the creamy richness of whole-milk yogurt. Alikhani’s homemade candied barberries lend an acidic pop with each bite that leaves you wanting more. For a more hearty dip, use kale in place of spinach. Serve borani as a dip with pita or flatbreads or it can also be served as a snack with rice.


Candied Barberries

  • 1 cup dried barberries

  • 2 tablespoons light olive oil

  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

Spinach Borani

  • 1 pound fresh spinach, roughly chopped (about 24 cups)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 small (8-ounce) yellow onion, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)

  • 3 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

  • 1 (16-ounce) container plain whole-milk strained yogurt (such as Fage 5%)


Make the candied barberries:

  1. Place dried barberries in a medium bowl; add cold water to cover, and soak 20 minutes. Drain, shaking gently and allowing a bit of excess moisture to cling to barberries. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high. Add oil and barberries; reduce heat to medium. Shake skillet, and add 2 tablespoons sugar, gently stirring once to incorporate. Cook barberries until all the sugar dissolves, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat; sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon sugar over barberries. Set aside. Stir just before using

Make the spinach borani:

  1. Cook spinach and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan over medium-low, stirring often, until spinach is wilted and most of the liquid is evaporated, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer spinach from saucepan to a medium bowl lined with paper towels; set aside to let cool.

  2. Meanwhile, rinse and dry saucepan completely, and return to stovetop. Heat oil in saucepan over medium, and add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add garlic, turmeric, black pepper, crushed red pepper (if using), and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add cooked spinach. Increase heat to high, and cook, stirring constantly, until spinach begins to darken and mixture is well combined, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

  3. Transfer spinach mixture to a medium bowl; add walnuts, 1/2 cup Candied Barberries, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let cool about 20 minutes. Stir in yogurt until just combined. Garnish with additional candied barberries; serve at room temperature or chilled.

To Make Ahead

Spinach borani can be stored in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 3 days, but the candied barberries lose their slight crunch during this time.

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