Its popularity arises perhaps from the overall balance of textures and flavours – soft, melt-in-the-mouth eggplant, simmered in a slightly acidic tomato base, topped with a tangy, cooling yoghurt dressing.

Serves
4

Preparation

20min

Cooking

20min

Skill level

Easy
By
Average: 5 (1 vote)
Yum

My mother recalls that in Afghanistan, banjaan borani was a favourite during the summer, when eggplants were in peak season.

That this dish has endured to become a favourite in Australia, speaks to the resonance of the human spirit across seemingly disparate worlds, and to the constantly evolving nature of culture. The recipe below is how banjaan borani would be prepared at home, to eat alongside challaw or another rice dish.

Ingredients

  • sunflower oil for deep-frying, plus 125 ml (½ cup) extra
  • 2 eggplants (aubergine), peeled and sliced into 4 lengthways
  • 1 large brown onion, sliced into semi-circles
  • 6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 fresh long red chillies, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tbsp white vinegar
  • 5 large tomatoes, sliced
  • 125 ml (½ cup) boiling water
  • mint leave, to serve
  • chilli powder, to serve

Yoghurt dressing

  • 520 g (2 cups) Greek-style yoghurt
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

1. In a large saucepan, heat enough oil for deep-frying to 170°C (325°F) on an oil thermometer.

2. Gently add the eggplant without overcrowding and fry, flipping the pieces over occasionally, until they are golden on both sides and soft all the way through. Set aside in a colander placed over a bowl to catch the excess oil and repeat with the remaining eggplant.

3. Heat the extra oil in a large frying pan over high heat and fry the onion, garlic and fresh chilli, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Reduce the heat to low and add the coriander, sugar, turmeric, chilli powder, vinegar and 1 tablespoon salt, stirring for 2 minutes, for the flavours to combine.

4. Arrange the tomato over this base to cover, then add the boiling water. Gently layer the eggplant on top with tongs and increase the heat to high. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, to make the yoghurt dressing, mix the yoghurt, garlic and ½ teaspoon salt in a bowl to combine well.

6. Spread half the yoghurt dressing over a large serving platter then, using a flat spoon, gently lift the eggplant and arrange it over the yoghurt, without overlapping. Spoon the onion and tomato sauce over the eggplant and decoratively dollop or spread the remaining yoghurt dressing on top. Garnish with mint and chilli powder to taste, and serve hot.

 

Images and text from Parwana by Durkhanai Ayubi; recipes by Farida Ayubi with assistance from Fatema Ayubi. Photography by Alicia Taylor. Murdoch Books RRP $45.00