Recently a friend took us to East is East in Vancouver and I had a roti roll filled with some seriously yummy eggplant which they called ‘Ghandara Blues’. Ever since, I’ve been thinking that maybe I really love eggplant and I just had to find out how to make this eggplant dish. I googled ‘eggplant’ and ‘Afghan’ and found lots of different recipes for borani banjan which is apparently a very popular dish in Afghanistan (I’m not gonna pretend I know anything about Afghan cuisine hence I’m calling this dish Afghan inspired instead of Afghan style!). All the recipes were quite different and involve having the eggplant fried and layered whereas the dish I had wasn’t quite like that so I decided I’d just have to try and wing it.
2 medium sized eggplants / 4 cloves garlic / 1/2 medium yellow onion / 1 can of whole tomatoes (796 ml) / 1/2 can of tomato paste / 1 tsp ground turmeric / 1 tsp paprika / 1/4 tsp hot chilli powder (or less/none if you don’t like heat) / avocado or olive oil / plain greek yogurt / dried mint / salt First slice the eggplant into 1 inch thick rounds, sprinkle liberally with salt and let them drain out excess liquid between some paper towels for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400F and after the eggplants have let out the excess liquid, cut them up into 1 inch cubes. Scatter the eggplant cubes evenly on a baking sheet and drizzle some oil over top and give it a bit of a toss. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, mince the garlic and finely chop up the onion. Drain the can of whole tomatoes and just roughly slice the tomatoes into halves. Sauté the garlic and onion in a large frying pan with some oil until the onions are translucent. Add in the tumeric, paprika and chilli powder. Then tip in the tomatoes and add the tomato paste and give it all a stir. The tomatoes will cook down a bit and then add in the eggplant. Let it all cook together for about 5 minutes or so and then that’s it. Season with a bit more salt to taste. Dollop some yogurt sprinkled with the mint on top and serve with basmati rice. I’m very happy with the result! Considering I had no idea what I was doing and tried to recreate something I’ve eaten only once, this turned out great. We think that it would also be good if we made this with more of a sauce consistency but either way it’s just up to personal preference. Maybe next time to make it more saucy I’d add just a bit of water or the liquid from the tin of tomatoes and let it thicken up a bit while cooking. Also, next time I’m gonna do some research and try my hand at making the Afghan style rice that’s got carrots and raisins in it…!