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Spinach With Yoghurt – A Turkish Borani Recipe

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Spinach and yoghurt – two common ingredients in Turkish cuisine and a dream combination in this delicious spinach borani recipe.

An oval-shaped terracotta serving bowl filled with cooked spinach and topped with yoghurt and walnuts.
We love Turkish spinach borani as a side dish

Whilst it’s not particularly a seasonal food on the local markets – you can buy fresh spinach year round – we love spring and early summer when the spinach is young and slightly more delicate.

During the colder winter months, the spinach is more robust.

It still makes a great borani. But a more rigorous washing of the leaves is necessary beforehand (they can often be muddy) and you need a slightly longer cooking time.

You also get a stronger flavour.

Bunches of spinach for sale at a Turkish market.
Lovely long stems and more delicate leaves on younger spinach

The younger spinach of the warmer months gives us longer, elegant stems that make life much easier when it comes to bunching them and cutting off the leaves.

And, of course, no waste.

We can make another side dish of Turkish spinach stem salad with the stems.

Good question!

It depends where you are , it seems.

Borani esfanaj is a traditional dish in Persian cuisine which is a creamy spinach and yoghurt dip.

This Persian spinach dip is not dissimilar to havuç tarator – the Turkish carrot and garlic yoghurt dip.

Once we hit the southeastern Turkish provinces, however, things change. Then we have the addition of ground meat and black-eyed peas with lots of juices.

We move away from it being a salad recipe to more of a stew.

Armenia, Albania and parts of Greece also have borani as part of their cuisine. In fact, the borani of Albania is spinach and eggs.

But the one constant seems to be the sauteed or braised spinach – or other similar greens like chard and nettles.

The Turkish spinach borani recipe we’re going to be doing in this recipe is our take on the lokanta-style spinach borani.

A table with traditional Turkish dishes. Salad, stews, spinach and bulgur pilaf.
We always order the spinach and yoghurt dish if we see it in a lokanta

Whenever we go to a lokanta in Fethiye, we always look to see if there’s spinach borani in the bain marie.

More often than not, there is.

And it goes so well as a side dish with bulgur pilaf and tomato and whatever meat dishes we order.

First of all (if it’s spring or early summer) we buy half a kilo of fresh baby spinach from Çalış Sunday market and give it a really good wash.

Regular spinach is fine if you can’t get young spinach.

The leaves are chopped off and the stems put in the fridge.

A pile of washed, chopped green spinach leaves.
It might look like you have a lot of spinach leaves

And then it’s really simple.

In a large frying pan, we heat a generous glug of olive oil over a medium heat and saute sliced white onions.

When these start to sweat we go in with our spinach.

It might look like a lot at first. But the spinach shrinks very quickly.

If it doesn’t all fit in at once, don’t worry. It will soon start to wilt. And you can then add the rest.

When your spinach has wilted, add some salt, freshly ground black pepper. And then we also add a good heaped teaspoon of paprika.

Then we stir the spinach and onion mixture, add around half a cup of water and leave it to simmer on a low heat for around 5 minutes until the spinach becomes a lovely dark green in colour.

We don’t like a completely dry texture for our spinach borani.

A bit of juice needs to be in there, for us, so we’re not too concerned about excess water.

Sometimes, we even add a little bit more if it has completely evaporated because the spinach dish in lokantas is never completely dry.

An oval-shaped terracotta bowl with cooked borani spinach and onions.
We pour our borani into a serving bowl

Once we’re happy with the texture, we pour it into our serving bowl.

And then, while our spinach mixture is cooling, we move on to the rest of the borani.

We like to add walnuts to lots of our salads and sides. Our spinach borani is no different.

It’s a little added luxury that you don’t get in a lokanta. But it looks and tastes the part if you’re having a dinner party – or just enjoying it to yourself, of course.

As for the yoghurt, we want a good quality, thick and creamy yoghurt.

Obviously, we use Turkish süzme yoghurt (strained yoghurt) but if you can’t get that, plain Greek yoghurt will work just as well.

We mix one clove of crushed fresh garlic into our yoghurt.

And, once the spinach borani mixture is at room temperature, spoon the garlic yoghurt over the top, along the centre.

Cooked spinach borani topped with yoghurt and walnuts.
Time to serve our spinach borani

When we’re ready to serve our spinach borani, we mix hot paprika or chilli flakes (hot red pepper flakes) and heat this for a few seconds on a medium-high heat before drizzling over the yoghurt and sprinkling the walnuts over the top.

And that’s it.

Serve your spinach borani as a side dish – it goes really well with lots of other Turkish recipes.

Most recently, we had it with chicken shish but it also goes really well with seafood dishes, Turkish rice and, as you can see in the lokanta photo above, stews and casseroles.

Or if you want a light vegetarian dish, we can vouch for the fact that this spinach borani tastes great the day after, served on a piece of lightly toasted crusty bread.

Let’s get cooking!

Cooked spinach borani topped with yoghurt and walnuts
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Turkish Spinach Borani Recipe

This healthy Turkish spinach borani recipe is really versatile and makes a great side dish to many grills, stews and casseroles. It's also really tasty served as a snack with fresh crusty bread.
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Course Meze
Cuisine Turkish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Cooling Time 20 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 205kcal
Author Turkey’s For Life


  • 1 Large frying pan
  • 1 Small frying pan
  • 1 Sharp knife
  • 1 Large serving dish


  • 500 grams spinach approximately 200 grams with stems removed
  • 1 large onion peeled, halved & sliced into half moons
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For The Topping

  • 3 tablespoons thick, natural yoghurt Turkish or Greek
  • 1 handful walnuts broken up
  • 1 clove garlic peeled & crushed or grated
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika or chilli flakes
  • salt & pepper to season


  • Give your spinach a thorough wash and chop the leaves from the stems. Place the stems in the fridge. These can later be used in a spinach stem salad.
  • Roughly chop your spinach leaves.
  • Heat your olive oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat and add your sliced onion.
  • Stir around for a few minutes until your onion is sweating and becoming translucent.
  • Now add your spinach. Depending on the size of your pan, you might have to wait for some to start wilting before you add more.
  • Keep stirring the spinach and onion mixture around until your spinach is wilted and is becoming dark green in colour.
  • Now add your paprika salt and freshly ground black pepper before pouring in around half a cup of cold water.
  • Stir and leave to simmer for around 5 minutes.
  • If all the water evaporates before your spinach mixture is cooked, add a splash more. We like a little bit of liquid in the mix.
  • When your spinach is thoroughly cooked and onions are soft, remove from the heat and pour into a serving bowl and allow to cool.

For The Topping

  • Add your grated garlic to your yoghurt and mix thoroughly.
  • Once your spinach has cooled, spoon the yoghurt over the top of the mixture, in the centre, so that there is still some exposed spinach around the edges.
  • Sprinkle your broken walnuts over the top.
  • Now place a small frying pan over a high heat, add the oil and paprika and stir for a few seconds until the oil takes on the colour of the paprika.
  • Remove from the heat and drizzle over your yoghurt topping.


  • As with all of our recipes, the nutrition information for our Turkish spinach borani is meant as a guide.
  • Your spinach borani will last 2-3 days if covered and refrigerated. Bring back to room temperature before serving.


Serving: 1Calories: 205kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 6gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gSodium: 101mgPotassium: 811mgFiber: 4gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 12216IUVitamin C: 38mgCalcium: 143mgIron: 4mg
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