In the Middle East, it is believed that eating yogurt ensures a long life, good looks and eternal youth. In this Iranian recipe, yogurt combines with spinach to make an unusual salad. Borani Esfanaj (BOH-rah-nee ESS-fah-nahj) may be served as an hors d’oeuvre or as an accompaniment to such meat dishes as Shish Kebab.
2 lb. fresh spinach
10 fl. oz. cold water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon black pepper
10 fl. oz. plain yogurt
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
Wash the spinach by plunging it alterna-tely into two bowls of cold water, lifting it out with your hands from one bowl to the other, until no sediment remains at the bottom of either bowl. The water in the bowls should be changed between each rinsing. Drain the spinach well on kitchen paper towels. Strip the leaves from the stalks. Throw away the stalks and old leaves.
In a medium-sized saucepan, bring the water to the boil over high heat. Put the spinach leaves into the water. Bring the water to the boil again and cook for 10 minutes.
Remove the spinach from the pan, drain it in a sieve and squeeze it dry by pressing it down into the sieve with a metal spoon. When the spinach has cooled to room temperature, transfer it to a wooden board and chop it finely.
Place the spinach, lemon juice, shallot, salt and pepper in a large salad bowl. Toss the mixture with a spoon. Stir in the yogurt and garlic clove and mix all the ingredients well together.
Cover the bowl with a plate and refri-gerate for 1-2 hours until the Borani is well chilled. Pile it in a chilled serving dish. Sprinkle the top with the chopped mint and serve.