Region: Arab Levant, Syria
This preparation is a real culinary treasure not often found today even in Syria where I collected this recipe in the early 1990s. Būrānī is the name of a number of dishes that were popular in Damascus in the thirteenth century and were influenced by Persian cuisine. The name of this dish derives from Būrān, the wife of the Abbasid caliph al-Ma’mūn (A.D. 786-833), the son of the famous caliph Hārūn al-Rashīd of 1001 Arabian Nights fame.
[photo: Clifford A. Wright]
Yield: Makes 4 small servings
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
2 pounds flat-leafed spinach, washed thoroughly, tough stems removed
1 cup high quality full-fat plain yogurt
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and mashed in a mortar with 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground allspice berries
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground cardamon seeds
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground coriander seeds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1. Place the spinach in a saucepan or stew pot with only the water adhering to it from its last rinsing. Turn the heat to medium-high, cover, and cook until the spinach wilts, about 5 minutes. Drain in a strainer, pushing out excess water with the back of a wooden spoon.
2. Stir the yogurt and mashed garlic and salt together and set aside.
3. In a skillet or saucepan, heat the olive oil with the spinach and spices over medium-high heat until heated through, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Transfer the spinach to a serving plate or platter, spoon several dollops of yogurt over and sprinkle on the walnuts. Serve immediately with Arabic flatbread.