May 01, 2011

Borani Kangar - Persian Yogurt and Cardoon Dip

A few weeks ago I came across an interesting online copy of an old and rare Iranian cookbook, dating back to the last years of the Qajar dynasty, written in beautiful Persian Nastea'liq handwriting. This cookbook may give us a tiny glimpse into the dynasty that ruled Iran from 1794-1925. Most of the recipes are brief and not easy to follow and some of them seem to be merely a translation of European recipes into Persian. The majority of the recipes basically include the list of the main ingredients with little directions. For those who are interested to see this document please click the following link Women's Worlds in Qajar Iran.

While browsing the book, the recipe for بورانی کنگر borani kangar, also known as mast-o-kangar (yogurt with cardoons), caught my attention. That's when I decided to give it a try but the problem is that I have never seen Iranian kangar anywhere. Kangar looks like a thin celery with thorns and has a very delicate taste and they are in season for a very short time, a few weeks at most. Yogurt and cardoon dip has a distinct flavor and even though it may take some time and effort to prepare cardoons it is definitely worth it.

Luckily, a few days later I was able to find cardoons that are a good substitute for kangar in John's Farm, an Italian vegetable market. However, fresh cardoon has a bitter taste and needs to be soaked or cooked in salted water. Also, in order to prevent cardoons from changing colors during preparation they need to be placed in acidulated water. I found the following link helpful in Preparing Cardoons.

Borani Kangar - Persian Yogurt and Cardoon Dip

Serves 4

1 bunch cardoons
2 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1-2 garlic cloves, minced *optional
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. To prepare cardoons remove all leaves and thorns, peel strings with a peeler, cut the stalks into small pieces.
  2. To prevent discoloration place the cardoons in a bowl of water and juice of two large lemons for ten minutes.
  3. In a large pot bring 4 cups of water to a boil on medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of salt and cardoons. Cook for 10 minutes or until tender and drain. 
  4. Chop cardoons finely by hand or use a food processor.
  5. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pan, add minced garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Then add the chopped cardoons and saute lightly for 5-7 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Let cool.
  6. Combine yogurt and cardoon garlic mixture together, taste and adjust the seasoning. 
  7. Place borani in a serving bowl and garnish with dried mint. I also used crushed walnuts and barberries but that's optional. Serve it as an appetizer cold or at room temperature with your favorite dish or any party meals.
*Variation: Combine chopped cardoons with yogurt, mix well and add salt and pepper to taste and skip step #5 in the above recipe.



  1. I actually tried cardoons for the first time last weekend in DC and enjoyed their taste & texture. I will try to find some in Montreal and prepare this recipe.

  2. Love cardoons, although is only available at the gourmet market here in my neighborhood. The dips sounds marvelous!

  3. Another great recipe, very nutritious. Thanks for sharing

  4. Two of my favourite things in one beautiful recipe: ancient worlds and culinary adventures. Azita jan, thank you for sharing less-explored, if not hidden, avenues of Persian cuisine. :)

  5. wow, something totaling new :)

  6. Hy Azita,
    first time here..lovely space with interesting your space..
    wish to visit often..
    do stop by mine sometime..
    Tasty Appetite

  7. What a beautiful presentation for a dip that sounds lovely! The taste of cardoons is so delicate. Cardoons are a typical vegetable grown in my region and I will surely try your recipe!

  8. Azita, this sounds just delicious - I just saw some cardoon in the market and was wondering what I could make with them, and now I have my answer. I'll be checking out the website.

  9. Fantastic and simple. I've not found cardoons anywhere in my markets. Sigh. I'll have to grow my own someday.

  10. I tried cardoon for the first time some weeks but with an italian recipe (contains leek and ground meat and sweet frutz balsamic vinegar). Cardoon is really delicious if you have a good recipe with good balance between sweet and bitter ingredients^^
    By the way, I have a question: do you have any recipe with kharfe? I don't know the english word for it but I just saw it in an afghan store and would like to know how to use it.
    Thank you anyway for your great and delicious recipe!

  11. Sabrinka, I do have a recipe for khorfeh if that's what you're looking for, this is the recipe:

    Thanks so much for visiting.

  12. For those of you having a hard time finding Cardoon, you can grow them very easily from seeds. They are very beautiful and very easy to take care of. I started growing cardoon few years ago to use them instead of Kangar but being from Shiraz and remembering Kangar during Shiraz Spring, I don't believe Cardoon is the same thing as Kangar. But, I guess just like anything else close enough is good enough when you can't go back to the source. Thanks Azita

  13. Anonymous, thank you very much for your feedback.