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Borani with Sweet Potato and Spinach

I love Borani and have ever since discovering it a few years ago in my Taste of Persia cookbook by Naomi Duguid. The idea of a savoury, creamy yogurt dish with vegetable toppings was naturally a hit for me, and I've been playing around with it ever since. I am not sure a Persian would recognise it much, but that's not the point. I am making tasty food, not necessarily culturally authentic food. Since trying Ottolenghi's Sweet Potatoes in a Tomato and Tamarind Sauce last week from his Flavour cookbook, it occurred to me that the spiced and roasted sweet potatoes could potentially go very nicely on a borani, so we tried it, with some additions and modifications, and it worked beautifully! I added some spinach, but hoped that adding it to the sweet potatoes under a cover in the oven it would wilt. It didn't. Instead it dehydrated, and added a bit of texture to the dish and was delightful. The joy of mistakes in the kitchen!


1 kg yogurt

1 tsp thyme

4 sweet potatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces

1 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp cardamom

1 1/2 tsp cumin

Juice of 1 lime

3 tsp pul biber

2 handfuls of spinach

1 spring onion, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

1) Drain the yogurt at least an hour through a cheese cloth (or clean dish towel) over a bowl (and keep the whey! It's great as an ingredient in other things! I drained mine into the bowl I used for step 2 and have flavoured whey now) You can drain it up to overnight depending on how thick you want it and how liquidy it is to start with.

2) Place the sweet potatoes in a large mixing bowl and add the maple syrup, olive oil, cardamom, cumin, salt and pepper, lime juice, and pul biber. Mix well then spread out on a baking sheet (grease proof paper or a silicon sheet can be helpful here!) and bake at 240°C for 25 minutes, covered with foil. The uncover and bake for a further 10 minutes until the bottoms of the potatoes start to caramelise.

3) Place the spinach in with the sweet potatoes and mix well. Cover with the foil again and bake a further 5 minutes or so until the spinach is cooked (dehydrated and crispy if it comes out like mine). Allow the sweet potatoes and spinach to cool a little.

4) Place the yogurt in the same mixing bowl that you used in step 2 and add thyme, sumac and some salt and pepper. (I used a salt flavoured with Alpine herbs and flowers). Mix well.

5) To serve spoon yogurt into bowls and top with the sweet potato and spinach mix. Sprinkle spring onions over the top. Enjoy!

I loved this! I found the interplay of flavours witty and stimulating. Or maybe that was the conversation at dinner... But the acidity of the yogurt played against the sweetness of the potatoes and the deeper flavours of the spices, and off against the sharper note of the lime and the freshness of the spring onion. Another Borani variant for the books! Little Bit is a bit of a yogurt aficionado and lost no time in stuffing it by the handful into his mouth. He can use a spoon, quite well even, but was in too much of a hurry. Not the most sophisticated or well-mannered dinner companion, but certainly flattering to the cook.


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