Even as a child I loved spinach. My mother was convinced it was because during her pregnancy with me she took iron supplements and therefore I crave the iron in spinach (I also liked liver as a child!). Whatever the reason, I adore leafy greens. In fact, when I was pregnant with my own daughter, Mast-o-Esfanaj was a major food craving for me. My mother would send over big bowls of it to my house and I would snack on it all the time.
An interesting fact that many might not know is that spinach originated in Persia. The first known references to spinach were in 226-640 A.D. Arab traders later took spinach to India and then it made its way to Ancient China where it was, and still is, known as “Persian Greens”.
Creamy, savoury and delicious, Mast-o-Esfanaj makes a wonderful appetizer or side dish. Tangy yogurt with wilted spinach, caramelized onion and aromatic garlic. I don’t think I even need to tell you how incredibly nutritious this dish is, but in case you’re in doubt, Mast-o-Esfanaj is filled with essential nutrients and vitamins including vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin B, folate, iron and fiber from the spinach and calcium and probiotics from the yogurt.
4 tbsp canola oil
1/2 large onion, sliced thinly
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric (optional)
1/2 lb washed baby spinach (or regular spinach chopped)
2 cups yogurt (preferably whole or 2%)
salt and pepper
Heat canola oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. When hot, add the onions and saute for 10 minutes, until soft and slightly golden. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the turmeric and garlic and fry for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Put the spinach to a large pot and add 1/4 cup water. Turn the heat to medium-high and cover. Stir every once in a while until spinach is cooked and wilted, about 5-10 minutes.
Line a sieve with paper towel and drain the spinach. Try to squeeze as much liquid out as possible.
Let the spinach cool. In a large bowl, combine the spinach, yogurt and the fried onion and garlic. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Enjoy!