Borani-yeh Kadoo: A rich, garlicky Persian dip made with late summer's best produce
Naz Deravian’s take on this dish is perfect for picnics, BBQs and pretending summer will last forever
The late summer scramble to bake and cook with the season’s freshest produce (think juicy peaches, local berries and ripe field tomatoes) has officially begun. And while you may already be busy boating, baking and stir-frying your zucchini, you’re going to want to make room for this recipe from Naz Deravian’s Bottom of the Pot before all the local goodies are gone. Creamy, garlicky and topped with silky roasted veg, this simple take on the Persian dip — that borrows its name from an ancient queen — is perfect for backyard BBQs and picnics alike. You can even prep the vegetable topping ahead of time for quick after-work snacking! Royal reputation, upheld.
Borani-yeh Kadoo | Summer Squash Yogurt Dip
By Naz Deravian
Borani is a yogurt-based dish typically served as a side alongside a meal or with bread as an appetizer or a quick lunch or snack. As Margaret Shaida recounts in her wonderful book The Legendary Cuisine of Persia, the origin of the word borani stems from the Sassanian dynasty, circa AD 626, and Queen Pourandokht, who ruled over Iran at the time. The queen was apparently enamored of yogurt, and all the yogurt dishes that were inspired by and created for her by the royal chefs became known as poorani, named after the queen herself. However, after the Arab conquests of Iran, the names of these dishes changed to borani because the letter “p” does not exist in the Arabic alphabet.
Borani-yeh Kadoo is a welcome dish for those few weeks in late summer when it seems like there will never be a shortage of zucchini or summer squash. You can first fry the yellow squash halves in a pan on the stove, but I prefer to roast them all in one go in a hot oven. Then finish cooking them off in a rich and juicy tomato sauce, with piaz daagh—fried onion. Spread over garlicky Greek yogurt, and give thanks to Queen Pourandokht for inspiring so many of these delectable yogurt-based dishes. Any which way you spell it.
- 2 medium zucchini, plus 2 medium yellow squash or any combination (about 2 pounds total), stems trimmed, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds
- 2 tbsp + ¼ cup olive oil, divided (plus more as needed)
- Kosher salt
- Ground black pepper
- 1 medium yellow onion, sliced into ¼-inch-thick half-moons
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- ½ tsp ground dried oregano
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 large clove garlic, crushed to a paste
- A few fresh basil or oregano leaves (optional)
Preheat the oven to 425°F with the rack set in the upper-third position. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Bring a kettle of water to a boil and keep it at a simmer.
In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Spread out in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. (Use two sheets, if necessary, so the squash doesn’t steam.) Roast until softened but not completely cooked through (the squash will finish cooking in the sauce), about 15 minutes. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large pan, heat the remaining ¼ cup oil over medium-high heat, until the oil is hot but not smoking. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and keep cooking, stirring often, until fried and crispy in bits and pieces, about 5 minutes. If the pan gets too dry, drizzle in more oil. Play with the heat if need be. You don’t want the onion to burn but you don’t want it soft and mushy either. Set aside a heaping tablespoon of the fried onion on a paper towel to use as garnish when serving.
Add the cherry tomatoes, tomato paste, and dried oregano to the pan. Mix well and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of the just-boiled water and 1 teaspoon salt, stir, and bring to a quick boil. Add the roasted squash slices. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened and fallen into place and most of the squash slices have broken down and collapsed into the sauce, about 20 minutes. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if needed. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for a few minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Spread the yogurt on a serving dish and top with the squash mixture. You can also drizzle or dollop the top with a little bit of the garlicky yogurt if you like. Garnish with the reserved onions, and a few torn basil or oregano leaves for extra beauty.
MAKE AHEAD: The squash-tomato mix can be cooked up to 3 days in advance and stored in the fridge. Add the yogurt when serving.
PREP AHEAD: The squash can be roasted in advance and stored in the fridge up to 3 days.
Yield: Makes 6 servings
Excerpted Bottom of the Pot: Persian Recipes and Stories by Naz Deravian. Copyright © 2018 by Naz Deravian. Reprinted with permission from Flatiron Books. All rights reserved. Photography by Eric Wolfinger.