Comforting and loaded with flavors, this Afghan borani banjan is made with roasted eggplant slices, spicy tomato gravy, and onions served with garlicky yogurt sauce. It's a delicious side dish or warm appetizer, and it makes for an amazing light lunch!
EGGPLANTS: Rinse eggplants and cut the stems off. Cut into ½-inch-thick slices. Spread slices on a flat surface or tray and sprinkle generously with salt. Leave for 15 minutes, then rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
GARLIC: Peel the garlic, crush, and place it on a piece of aluminum foil. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with ½ teaspoon of olive oil. Wrap the foil around the garlic.
ROAST: Place eggplant slices on a large (or two medium), greased baking sheet. Drizzle with 5 tablespoons olive oil. Place the garlic pouch on the sheet between the eggplant slices. Bake the eggplant and garlic for 20-30 minutes or until the eggplant is lightly browned. Don't worry if your thinner slices are dry; they will absorb the sauce later in the process.
ONIONS: In a medium saucepan, heat one tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Sauté sliced onions until browned and slightly caramelized, then stir in red pepper flakes, if using. Remove onions from the pan with a slotted spoon.
TOMATO GRAVY: Place tomatoes in the same pan and cook until they break down, about 8 minutes (add another tablespoon of oil if necessary). Add tomato paste, water, turmeric, coriander, pepper, and salt to taste. Cook the sauce over medium-low heat for 15 minutes or until it begins to thicken.
ASSEMBLE: Layer half of the eggplant slices in an 8-inch cast iron skillet, baking dish, or loaf pan. Top the eggplant with half of the onions and half of the tomato sauce. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
BAKE: Cover with aluminum foil and place in a preheated 350°F oven for 20-30 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 minutes longer, to reduce the excess liquid.
Yogurt garlic sauce
Combine yogurt, mashed roasted garlic cloves, and a pinch of salt. Top eggplant with yogurt sauce. Sprinkle with cilantro, parsley, or mint and serve warm or at room temperature.
Serving size: This recipe will serve two people as a side and four as an appetizer. Double or triple the recipe if serving more people.
Instead of salting the raw eggplants and letting them "sweat" to remove bitterness, you can soak them in salted water for 15 minutes, then drain and pat dry with paper towels.
Add some dried mint to the finished dish in addition to cilantro.
This dish is best served warm, but you should chill the yogurt sauce.
For a vegan version, use plant-based yogurt.
For the best results, read additional tips in the post above.
Please remember that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary significantly based on the products used.
Storage:Refrigerate eggplant and yogurt sauce separately in airtight containers for p to three days.