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Afghan Spinach Bolani
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.
Could you bake instead of fry these?
Hi Sophia, yes, but it won't be as good as frying. - Preheat your oven to 220 Celsius (450 Fahrenheit), and line several baking sheets with parchment paper. - Place bolani on the prepared sheets, and bake for 10 minutes.
Kathy Hansen says:
I would gladly eat the entire batch at one sitting but.... Have you ever tried to freeze them assembled but before frying?
Hi Kathy, I haven't tried freezing them like that before, so I can't say if they will work or not. But, I have frozen extra homemade wontons (Chinese dumplings) before with great success, so I tend to believe that it should theoretically work with bolani too. Here is how I do it for wontons: Spread out the uncooked wontons on a baking sheet, freeze until firm, and then transfer them to a freezer bag. When ready to serve, just heat the oil, and fry the frozen wontons (no need to thaw) until golden brown and crispy.
Kerryn Newbegin says:
We have an international food day at work this week. Could I make these in advance at home and then bake in the oven at work?
Hi Kerryn, can you keep them frozen while transporting the bolani to work? If you can, once you finish assemble the bolani, arrange on baking sheet lined with parchment in a single layer (you probably need multiple baking sheets), and freeze until solid. Then you can store in ziplock bag. Then you can transport the frozen bolani to work, but they need to stay frozen. Then, once you are ready to fry/bake, remove from freezer and proceed to cooking without thawing. Most likely you will need to increase cooking time. Hope this helps. :)
I have never tried an Afghan bolani before, and that is quite surprising. Super excited to give this recipe a try now - I love to experiment.
Always looking for new spinach recipes for what I get out of my garden, loved this.
This looks delicious and I love how simple the ingredients are.
Thank you so much for your international recipes: I would not be able to try some without you:) This spinach appetizer was a hit last night. This easy recipe made the baking enjoyable.
Krissy Allori says:
I've never made this but it sure does look amazing. I love spinach. I am going to make this for sure.
Sadaf Valizadeh says:
Hi! I was just wondering how many calories do you reckon one bolani has? I tried googling but couldn't find anything.
Hi Sadaf, I run it through a calorie calculator from https://www.verywellfit.com to get these numbers: Calories 263, Total Fat 5.4g (7%), Saturated Fat 0.8g (4%), Cholesterol 0mg (0%), Sodium 521mg (23%), Total Carbohydrate 46.1g (17%), Dietary Fiber 4g (14%), Total Sugars 0.8g, and Protein 8.7g. I hope this helps.
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