Eggplant and tomato with yoghurt and mint sauce
This tasty dish - known as borani banjan - is a luscious and healthy Afghani dish that is served with a refreshing yoghurt and mint sauce. It is not difficult to make despite the list of ingredients; just have everything ready before you start. The flavours improve with keeping, so it can be made ahead of time. Serve as part of a banquet, or by itself with rice or flatbread.
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Borani banjan - serve with yoghurt and mint sauce. Photo: Sophie Harper
2 young eggplants (about 750g)
3 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
1 brown onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 to 1/2 tsp chilli powder to taste
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp toasted and ground cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1 x 400g can tomatoes, pureed (or 1 1/2 cups tomato passata)
1 tsp sugar
freshly ground black pepper
1 small bunch of mint
1 cup Greek yoghurt
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried mint
Salting the eggplant is optional, but it helps it to absorb less oil when fried. Cut eggplants into 1.3cm slices. Sprinkle with salt and leave to drain in a colander or on a rack for about 30 minutes. Rinse off the salt and pat dry with a kitchen towel.
Heat the oil in a large saute pan and in batches, fry the eggplant slices on each side until tender and golden. Drain on kitchen paper.
For tomato sauce
Meanwhile, for the tomato sauce use the same saute pan and fry the onion in a tablespoon of oil until soft and golden brown. Add the garlic and fry for a minute and then stir in the chilli powder, turmeric, cumin and coriander and cook for a few moments. Add the tomato puree and half a cup of water, season with salt, sugar and pepper and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer partly covered for about 25 minutes until thick, stirring from time to time. Taste and correct the seasoning. Now add about a tablespoon of shredded fresh mint to the sauce.
Return the eggplant slices to the pan, carefully nestling them into the sauce so the slices remain intact. Spoon some of the sauce over the top. Almost cover the saute pan and simmer for about 20 minutes, giving the pan an occasional shake. Alternatively the dish can be assembled in an ovenproof dish and baked in the oven at 180C for 30 minutes.
To make the yoghurt sauce, whisk the yoghurt and add the garlic, dried mint and a pinch of salt. If you like, add a little shredded fresh mint to it as well.
Spread half the yoghurt sauce onto the serving plate and arrange the hot eggplant and tomato over it. Spoon the remaining yoghurt sauce on top. Alternatively serve the eggplant and yoghurt sauce separately. Either way, garnish with sprigs of mint and serve with naan bread.