The first time I tried an Afghan bolani was at Costco. I know, pretty sad right, but I was hooked nevertheless. Since I love cooking, of course I simply must find a good recipe so I can recreate bolani as often as I like in the comfort of my own kitchen. Turns out, this is one of the simplest thing ever, and it doesn’t even have to be spinach either, the filling can be substituted with potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, butternut squash, or kale if you are adventurous. Ah, and be sure to grab some yogurt for dipping freshly fried bolani. The pairing of hot bolani with yogurt is the best thing ever.
The first thing to do is to knead the dough, which is a simple mix of all purpose flour, salt, water, and olive oil. Once the dough is non sticking, soft, and elastic, which if you knead with hand should take about 10 minutes, place it in an oiled mixing bowl and let it proof for 1 hour. Divide proofed dough into 8 equal portions. Meanwhile, make the filling.
As I said earlier, you can use other filling, but since my very first bolani has spinach filling, I am going to recreate that in this recipe. First, blanch fresh spinach until wilted, then drain under cold running water to stop the cooking process, and squeeze out as much water as possible. Chop the spinach and place in a mixing bowl. Combine spinach with chopped green jalapeno chili, cilantro, and scallion, and season with salt, pepper, and a little bit of olive oil. Divide the filling into 8 portions.
With the dough and the filling ready, we can start assemble the bolani. Take a piece of dough and roll into an 11”-12” circle. Spread a portion of the filling generously on half of the rolled out dough, leaving 1⁄2 inch margin near the edge. Wet the edges of the bread with your finger tips, fold the other half of the bread over the filling half. Seal the edges by pressing slightly.
Now, heat a quarter cup of olive oil in a large frying pan, preferably the size should be larger than the bolani so it can be fried easily. Fry the bolani, one at a time, until both sides are crispy and golden brown. It is best if they are served straight out from the pan still piping hot. I cut one bolani into four pieces and eat it with plain yogurt as dipping. If you want, you whip up some raita yogurt as dipping by mixing 1 cup plain yogurt with 1 minced garlic, 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, and 1⁄2 teaspoon coriander.
When I was busily making bolani in the kitchen, my hubby dropped by and he thought I was making calzone :D If you are familiar with calzone, and reading through the step-by-step process of making a bolani, I believe you can easily see why the confusion.
Afghan Spinach Bolani
- 3 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 cup water
- 800 gram fresh spinach
- 1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves
- 1/2 cup chopped scallion
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- Combine all dough ingredients in a mixing bowl. Knead into a non-sticky, soft, and smooth dough, about 10 minutes. Add a bit of flour if it is too sticky, or add a bit of water if it is too dry.
- Place the dough in an oiled mixing bowl. Cover with wet kitchen towel/saran. Let it proof for 1 hour.
- Divide dough into 8 equal portions.
- Blanch spinach until wilted. Drain under cold running water to stop cooking process. Squeeze out as much water as you can. Chop into smaller pieces.
- In a mixing bowl, combine spinach with the rest of filling ingredients. Mix well. Divide into 8 equal portions.
- Take a piece of dough, roll with a rolling pin into a 11"-12" circle.
- Spread a portion of the filling generously on half of the rolled out dough, leaving 1/2 inch margin near the edge.
- Wet the edges of the bread with your finger tips, fold the other half of the bread over the filling half. Seal the edges by pressing slightly.
- Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Fry bolani, one piece at a time, until both sides are crispy and golden brown.
- Cut each bolani into 2-4 pieces and serve with plain yogurt.