Afghan Spinach with Dill and Cilantro


This is the sort of dish to cook quietly in your kitchen, spoon into a container, and hide in the back of the fridge so you don’t have to share. Pull it out for lunch or a late-night snack when nobody is looking.

More likely, it’s one you’ll make for your family, risking the fact that your kids may not love it. Mine ate it, one had seconds, nobody complained. But let’s be honest, nobody, except me, tucked in like it was a bubbling crock of mac and cheese.

It is spinach after all.

Seriously good spinach. And compared to other spinach dishes that rest on the laurels of rich accompaniments like cream, butter, bacon, and cheese, this one relies on herbs and spices along with slow cooking to make it the best cooked spinach I know. It’s served with Greek yogurt along with warm pita or naan bread to help scoop the goods from plate to mouth.

The recipe, officially called Sabzi, comes from my friend Humaira, who grew up eating it in her native Afghanistan. It’s traditionally served alongside other vegetable dishes, rice, and meat curries. I usually make it as a side dish to a roast chicken or grilled kebabs.

This time around, though, I made it as a center-of-the-plate dish on the Sunday after Thanksgiving when we needed a household-wide detox. A big ‘old mess of spinach seemed just the thing.

The following day, realizing I hadn’t had my fill, I made a second batch, just for me, to store in the back of the fridge and eat when nobody was looking.

5 from 6 votes
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Afghan Spinach with Dill and Cilantro

Use frozen, chopped leaf spinach that's sold in a bag not compressed in a box like a big spinach popsicle. If organic is available, that's a better option since conventionally grown spinach is notably high in pesticide residues.
Course Vegetable Side
Cuisine Afghan
Prep Time 4 minutes
Cook Time 36 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 to 6 servings
Author katiemorford

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 bunches green onions (about 14 onions), chopped (use entire onion, white and green parts)
  • 2 pounds frozen, chopped spinach (not defrosted)
  • 1 tablespoon dried dill
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 to 3 dashes ground cayenne
  • ¼ cup water, plus more if needed
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
  • Greek yogurt and pita or naan bread for serving

Instructions

  1. In a large deep sauté pan or pot heat the oil on medium-high and saute the onions until tender and wilted, about 6 minutes. Drop the heat to medium, add the frozen spinach, dill, coriander, cayenne pepper, and water, and stir. Cook the spinach for 20 minutes, stirring regularly. If the pan dries out, add more water, a tablespoon or 2 at a time. Add the cilantro, black pepper, salt, and lemon juice. Stir and continue to cook another 10 minutes until the spinach is dark and the texture is sort of creamy.
  2. Serve Sabzi in a bowl with yogurt and warm pita or naan bread on the side.

Adapted from a recipe for Sabzi by Humaira Ghilzai of Afghan Culture Unveiled

Comments

12.03.2012 at 7:58 AM #

Pamela

Your girls are amazing when it comes to eating all kinds of food~~~a big tribute to you, mom!
Actually, your girls are amazing,period but slow cooked spinach??

12.03.2012 at 9:18 PM #

Monica

I love the idea of healthy comfort food! I can’t wait to make it this week! I ditto Pam’s comments about your amazing girls.

12.03.2012 at 9:18 PM #

katiemorford

Thanks Monica! This is indeed a new kind of comfort food.

12.04.2012 at 12:26 PM #

Snack Girl

This looks so yummy!!

12.04.2012 at 12:26 PM #

katiemorford

So yummy, so easy. Right up your alley, Snack Girl.

12.05.2012 at 11:11 AM #

Margaret-Ellen Jeffreys

I made this last night, and though it isn’t a throw-it-together-quick meal, it’s an easy and INCREDIBLE make-ahead option for several meals if you’re just you! 🙂 I just turned on a podcast and practiced some guitar in between stirring, and this is absolutely the best cooked spinach I have ever eaten. I had an iron deficiency a few years back and always struggle to get enough iron from real foods and not just supplements (as I refuse to venture into kidney-eating, eeeee….can’t do it), but I ate one serving last night and dished the rest of the batch into three little square glass containers and by my calculations (I do them online, helpful!), this for lunch plus oatmeal for breakfast and a couple of those Who Nu? “nutrition cookies” and I’m above my daily recommendation! I’m training for a marathon this year, so I’m always thrilled to find easy really nutrient-dense options that I can take to work or heat up quickly before running out to an audition. Thank you, Katie!

12.05.2012 at 11:11 AM #

katiemorford

Your welcome. This is a yummy way to battle an iron deficiency for sure.

10.29.2016 at 3:00 PM #

Rauf

I’m a spinachovore, and this looks like a wonderful and delicious way to eat it. I’ll be following this recipe for sure ~ Thank you very much posting this 🙂

10.29.2016 at 3:00 PM #

katiemorford

This is crazy good and perfect for a spinachovore 🙂

01.27.2017 at 8:49 AM #

TJ

Looking forward to trying your recipe. I used to live in Afghanistan and this is something I miss from there.

01.27.2017 at 8:49 AM #

katiemorford

Oh, I hope you like it!

02.13.2017 at 2:15 PM #

Alejandro

Nearby my place there is a really good afghan restaurant, where I got to know Sabzi.
I threw some extra spices to the recipe, as looking for the dry dill my spice rack fell and I made a huge mess (not in the pan luckily). So it was just some extra nutmeg, turmeric and Cumin in the sabzi as the dispensers broke, and plenty of them in the floor.
After patiently stirring and some vacuuming, the sabzi looked dark as mentioned and the moment of truth came.
(insert some swearing here). It was amazing! Absolutely fantastic. Thank you very much Katie for sharing your recipe.

02.13.2017 at 2:15 PM #

katiemorford

Sounds like quite an adventure in the kitchen. I’m glad it turned out. I love this dish!

02.19.2018 at 5:32 PM #

Jen

Afghan food is my absolute favorite and there’s no place to get it near me. Thank you so much for this recipe — it is as delicious as you say and exactly what I remember loving so much!

04.03.2018 at 5:21 PM #

Arya

I love this recipe. I’m Afghan and didn’t know how to make it but thanks to you I was able to get back to my Afghan roots. It’s delicious 😋

06.27.2018 at 6:42 PM #

Wendy

I have a favorite Afghani restaurant and once asked the owner what spices were in the spinach. She would not tell! So excited to find this recipe- the flavors are very similar and delicious!

06.28.2018 at 4:34 PM #

katiemorford

Oh I’m so glad. I love this dish!

11.07.2018 at 4:16 AM #

Santana

I have cooked the spinach today and had some for dinner with fresh goats curd. I was in heaven. It tastes so good and satisfying. Will give some to the boys tomorrow or I may not want to share … I used fresh dill and not ground coriander, because I didn’t want to go shopping. It worked very well and I kind of enjoyed the little crunch from the coriander. Thank you Katie.

11.07.2018 at 4:16 AM #

katiemorford

Serving this with goat curd sounds amazing. So glad you’ve enjoyed it.

11.15.2018 at 2:50 PM #

Paul Remer

Getting ready to cook an Afghan feast for my men’s book club. Is there a modification for using fresh spinach, or is frozen the way to go?

11.15.2018 at 2:50 PM #

katiemorford

I think it works really well with frozen spinach and will save you a lot of time. I look for the chopped spinach in a bag as opposed to the boxed spinach.

01.16.2019 at 12:32 PM #

Nicole

I heard that this was an absolutely delicious dish, and I am curious. Isnt it wonderful that there are so many ways in the world to make food. Is your recipe hot? meaning you put red pepper or hot palak? This Indian dish combines fresh spinach and ricotta in a creamy palak paneer. Use paneer if you can find it! It is absolutely wonderful with basmati rice or naan.https://punjabidesifoods.com/palak-paneer/

01.16.2019 at 12:32 PM #

katiemorford

Thanks for sharing. This spinach isn’t spicy, but it’s full of flavor and highly addictive 🙂

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