Borani Laboo is a beautiful and bright pink Persian yoghurt dip that doubles as both a side dish and a dip that is at home on any mezze table.
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Table of contents
What’s in a Name?
Borani Laboo is also traditionally called Boorani-yeh Laboo.
In Farsi (the Persian language, also the lingua franca in Afghanistan):
- Boorani (commonly spelt borani) = refers to yoghurt based dishes
- Laboo = beetroot
- yeh = an ezāfe, like an article, a short vowel sound that connects words in Farsi, to indicate a relationship, like modifying a noun or joining two nouns together.
Boorani-yeh Laboo = Yoghurt and Beetroot (could even be taken as just Beetroot Yoghurt, with beetroot being used as an adjective).
Origin of Borani Recipes
Legend has it that the word borani traces its origin to the mid 7th century during the Sassanid Empire, the last Persian Dynasty before the advent of Islam.
Its creation is attributed to Purandokht (629-632), the first of only two female rulers in Iran’s history. This empress was apparently very fond of the cold, strained yoghurt dishes that her royal chef used to prepare especially for her. So much so, the dishes were named poorani, after Her Royal Highness.
After the Muslim conquest, this word naturally became boorani because the Arabic alphabet doesn’t have the soft sounding “p”. There are many types of boorani, or borani, as it is more commonly spelt in English, and today’s boorani-yeh laboo is one of my favourite of the lot.
I mean, just look at that colour!
Borani Laboo Recipe
Borani Laboo, like all the other Persian yoghurt based dishes, is very easy to prepare. This is how it’s done:
- Cook the beetroot by simmering it.
- Peel and grate the beetroot.
- Mix it with yoghurt and season.
However, on very hot summer days, I skip the cooking of the beetroot altogether. I know, I know, many of you traditionalists are probably going “noooo”, but hey, don’t knock it until you try it!
I rather like the sweet, crunchy nature of the grated beetroot contrasting with the creamy yoghurt. Almost like the walnuts in Mast-o Khiar, the other borani dish I have on this site.
So I’m giving you both versions in the recipe card below. Cook your beets if you prefer, for an all around soft and creamy experience, or leave them raw and crunchy. Just don’t tell your Persian مامان بزرگ (grandmother)!
How to Serve Boorani-ye Laboo
Traditionally, borani dishes were served as part of a meal as side dishes. Their creamy nature is the perfect complement to savoury rice and stews. This is still the case, especially during the colder months. So you can serve it with any of the rice dishes found in Persian and Afghan culture, and also alongside stews. See the gallery below.
But today’s borani laboo, like other borani recipes, can also be served as part of a mezze meal or appetiser table. It can be eaten as a dip with the usual suspects, be they crudités, dry finger foods or crackers and chips.
This beautiful pink yoghurt dish will also make an extremely attractive starter, served with any form of flatbread. The Levantine Manoushe comes to mind immediately. And you know what would also be good with this Persian yoghurt dip? Focaccia!
So many ways to enjoy it!
And now, shall we get our aprons on?
Recipes to Serve with Borani Laboo
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Noushe jan | نوش جان
Borani Laboo (Persian Yoghurt and Beetroot Dip)
- Chopping board
- saucepan (if you're cooking the beetroot)
- utensils as needed
- 500 g beetroot unpeeled weight (about 2-3, depending on size)
- 500 g thick yoghurt Greek style yoghurt
- 1-2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice to taste, see recipe
- pinch salt
- 1 sprig fresh mint leaves or ¼ tsp dried
- black pepper
If Cooking the Beetroot
- If you are cooking the beetroot, place a small saucepan of water on the stove, to boil.
Top and tail the beets.500 g beetroot
- Cut in half, then carefully drop them into the boiling water. Cook for 20 minutes or so, until a knife glides through smoothly.
- Drain, then leave them to cool completely.
- Peel the beetroot using a vegetable peeler, then grate them using a medium grater. I always use gloves for this as I hate stained fingers and nails!
If not Cooking the Beetroot
Top and tail the beets, then peel them using a vegetable peeler.500 g beetroot
- Grate using a medium grater.
Putting the Borani Laboo Together
Tip the yoghurt into a roomy bowl.500 g thick yoghurt
Save 1 tablespoon of the beetroot, and add the rest of it, along with the lemon juice, pinch of salt and some pepper. Stir well and taste. Add more lemon juice and/or salt if you think it needs it.500 g beetroot, 1-2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, pinch salt, black pepper
- Transfer the whole thing into a serving bowl and top with the leftover grated beetroot.
Thinly cut the mint leaves, scatter all over the borani laboo and serve. Can be made up to 6 hours ahead and kept, covered, in the fridge.1 sprig fresh mint leaves