By Cat, Jul 2008 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
I have not yet tried this dish, but as I read the recipe, it reminds me of many East Indian curries, so I know I will love it. From my research, I find it is usually served as one of many curry dishes in a curry feast. In this way, it falls into the category of “small plates.” It can also be served as an appetizer or main dish with naan bread (similar to pita), which absorbs much of the oil.
I first discovered this Afghani recipe on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday, June 22, 2008 (1). Because their recipe is quite elaborate in preparation, I base my version on a Travel Afghanistan recipe (3), with a few hints from the NPR recipe.
This is a very ancient dish made with eggplant, onion, garlic, tomatoes and curry spices. It is also a fairly oily dish, so it is important to use healthful fats/oils in the preparation, and serve it on a good bread like Naan (Traditional Indian Tandoori Flatbread) (or pita can be used in a pinch), or steamed rice (brown or white), to absorb the oils. The fats/oils I choose to use are lard (or rendered duck/goose fat) or coconut oil for frying the eggplant, and olive oil for making the tomato sauce.
The recipe has a fair amount of prep, which I recommend doing before you start cooking.
Serves 6 – 8 for appetizers, or 4 as a vegetarian main course.
Ingredients & Equipment:
- 2 medium eggplants
- 2 – 3 medium tomatoes
- 2 onions
- 3 – 4 cloves garlic
- unrefined sea salt
- ½ Tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- Cook eggplant:
- 4 Tbsp lard, duck/goose fat, or coconut oil; plus more as needed
- Tomato Sauce
- 2 – 3 Tbsp olive oil
- ¼ cup hot water
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp chili powder, or to taste (optional
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground paprika
- unrefined sea salt, to taste
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Yogurt Sauce:
- 1 ½ cup Greek yogurt
- unrefined sea salt, to taste
- dried mint
- cayenne pepper
- cast iron skillet
- slotted spoon
- Prep: Slice eggplants crosswise into ½” – ¾” thick rounds. Place rounds on paper towel or cotton cloth. Salt evenly, then let rest about 30 minutes, then pat dry. Turn slices over, salt, rest and pat dry on the second side.
- Meanwhile, chop onions coarsely.
- Mince garlic. Crush 1 Tbsp to a paste with the blade of a chef’s knife (for yogurt sauce) and mix with lemon juice in a small bowl; set aside the remaining minced garlic for the tomato sauce.
- Using a slotted spoon, dunk fresh tomatoes in boiling water in saucepan for 30 seconds, then remove. Remove peel, then cool tomatoes in icy water. Then puree in a blender or processor.
- Fried onions and eggplant: Heat rendered fat or coconut oil in skillet over medium-high heat.
- Fry chopped onion until golden brown. Using slotted spoon, remove onions from oil and set aside to drain on paper towels.
- Add more fat as necessary to the hot pan, maintaining temperature. Fry eggplant slices, a few at a time and without crowding, until golden on one side; turn over and do same on the other side. They should be soft on the surface but still firm in the middle. Drain on paper towels.
- Tomato Sauce: Reusing the cast iron pan, pour off any remaining fat (for composting). Add olive oil and sauté the minced garlic over low heat until golden (garlic scorches easily, so watch closely; use a simmer plate if necessary).
- Stir pureed tomatoes into garlic mixture, and simmer for 5 more minutes.
- Meanwhile toss the chopped, fried onions and hot water into the same blender/processor and whoosh until mushy; add to tomato sauce.
- Season with salt, pepper, and ground spices (adjust the chili powder to your taste). Simmer another 5 minutes to blend the flavors.
- Add about ¼ cup of water. Cover pan and simmer on low heat for approximately ten minutes.
- Yogurt Sauce
- While tomato sauce is simmering, whisk the crushed garlic & lemon juice mixture into the yogurt until well mixed. Whisk in salt to your taste; set aside.
- Assembly for Serving: Spread enough yogurt sauce on serving plate to make a broad, shallow pond. Arrange eggplant slices on top of the yogurt. Pour tomato sauce over all.
- Drizzle more yogurt sauce on top; garnish with mint and cayenne to taste.
- Serve with warm naan (flatbread) and/or steamed rice.
- NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday June 22, 2008 recipe: npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91710829
- LORE Blog recipe: l-o-r-e.com/blog/2013/8/7/borrani-banjan (includes a recipe for naan bread)
- Travel Afghanistan recipe: travelafghanistan.hubpages.com/hub/Borani-Banjan-Recipe-Afghan-Eggplant-with-Tomato-Yogurt-and-Garlic-Sauce