Borani Esfanaj

My brother had stayed with me for a week after my mastectomy.  It seemed really soon for him to have to leave, probably because I was out for at least 2 days of his visit.  It ended up being way more comforting than I expected.  My friend Issac volunteered to stay with me after my brother left.  I was still struggling to do some minor things, like picking up, cooking, taking out the trash, so having the help was still needed.  The surprising thing for me was how hard it was to put on clothes.  My arms just have limited movement and stretching the arms up over my head and to put on a shirt hurts.  The doctors recommended button down shirts, which I found useful for the doctors appointments, but buttoning the buttons was no fun.  I got some loose fitting dresses and this is now what I wear.  They really are fancy muumuu’s.  Never really saw myself wearing them, but it works.  Also helps with people coming over and not just being in my pajamas.

Equally as hard is finding Bahrain recipes.  A lot of things I found online seems to be middle eastern dishes rather than specific Bahrain dishes.  With a lot of time spent researching I find a cookbook called “multicultural cookbook of life-cyle celebrations”.  It basically has recipes from all over the world.  It has a recipe for a spinach salad called Borani Esfanaj.  The book describes how it is common on feast and wedding days that a whole baby goat is served and this is a common salad to accompany it.  I’m not feeding a family, so don’t go for the whole goat recipe but want to make this salad.

When reading the Borani Esfanaj recipe it seems to be much more of appetizer or more specifically a dip than a salad.  I was thinking of this as a side dish.  What goes well with a creamy spinach dip?  BREAD!  Well as I am cooking Bahrain I start to look into what is a common bread and find that they typically eat khubz.  Which is like a pita, so I am going to make this as well and serve with the “salad”.

The khbuz is a yeast dough.  Following instructions I add yeast to water and let it sit.

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Mix the dough and let it rest.

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Then split the dough into small balls and let it rest.

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I roll out the dough into the circle.  Yeah, my skills are of rolling dough is getting better!

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Then you bake it in the oven.  While it cooks the dough puffs up.

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Then broil till brown.

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Once it is done the air in the middle forms a pocket like a pita would.

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The “salad” is straightforward to make.  Boil spinach in water and then cook with onion and garlic.  Cool a bit and mix with yogurt.

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Then top with nuts and mint.

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The result is good.  The “salad” is like a dip.  It is like a spinach dip with a bit more unique flavors.  The mint is refreshing bite with the yogurt.  The bread is like a pita not particularly flavorful, but I’m shocked at how crisp the outside and soft the inside is.  The two pair together well, this may not be how they ate it in Bahrain, but works in my imagination.


Recipes

Borani Esfanaj

The original Recipe can be found here

  • 1 lb fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons roasted walnuts, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, chopped
  1. Boil water and add spinach.  Cook for 10 minutes.
  2. Drain spinach.
  3. In large sauce pan heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
  4. Add onion and garlic.  Saute for 5 minutes
  5. Add spinach and cook for 5 minutes
  6. Transfer to bowl and let cool for at least 5 minutes.
  7. Add yogurt, salt and pepper.
  8. Serve with walnuts and mint sprinkled on top.

Khubz

Original recipe can be found here

  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
  1. In a large bowl, pour in the warm water and add in the yeast, stir until the yeast is dissolved.
  2. Add in the salt.
  3. Start gradually adding in the flour and oil while kneading.
  4. Knead the dough for 8 minutes.
  5. Put the dough into a large greased bowl and turn dough to grease all sides.
  6. Cover with a dry tea towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size about 1 ½ hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  8. Punch dough gently.
  9. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and shape them into smooth balls.
  10. Place on a floured work surface and dust tops lightly with flour.
  11. Cover with a dry tea towel and let rest for 15 minutes.
  12. Roll out each ball into a 6-inch diameter circle.
  13. Place in oven and bake for 5 minutes, until puffy.
  14. Then broil for 2 minutes to brown.
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