Borani Banjan (Afghan Eggplant Dish)
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Borani Banjan is Afghan-style fried eggplant simmered in a spiced tomato sauce served with garlicky yogurt. It’s an appetizer that’s delicious served with naan or flatbread!
Borani Banjan along with Bolani are always my favorite dishes to order when we go out for Afghan food.
Thin, salted eggplant slices that are fried then simmered in a homemade slightly fiery tomato sauce. But I think my favorite part is the combination of warm eggplant stew with the swoop of creamy cool garlic yogurt paired with warm naan or flatbread. It’s warming, loaded with garlic flavor, and it’s absolutely perfect. I know it sounds like humble ingredients with big promises, but that’s the magic of this recipe. The garnish is simple, just some dried mint sprinkled on top to finish it off.
Borani Banjan is quite possibly my favorite way to eat eggplants!
What is Borani Banjan?
Borani Banjan is an eggplant dish where the eggplants are fried and then stewed in a tomato sauce and served with creamy garlic yogurt. It is typically served as an appetizer with naan but you could also serve this as a main meal.
Ingredients for Afghan Eggplant Dish:
- Eggplants: You’ll need about 1½ pounds of eggplants for this recipe. I usually look for two smaller sized ones in my middle eastern grocery store so that the slices are naturally smaller. You could also use one giant eggplant, but be sure to cut it into 2-3 inch pieces so that it’s easier to serve. We’ll start by salting the eggplant to draw out most of that moisture before we fry it to golden brown.
- Seasonings: You’ll need a lot of pantry staples for this recipe like kosher salt, ground turmeric, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. The ingredients might sound overly simple but the end product is so flavorful!
- Fresh Garlic: We’ll add fresh garlic cloves to this recipe. You’ll add most of it to the stewed tomato mixture. Then, we’ll press the last garlic clove right into the yogurt.
- Olive Oil: We’ll start by frying the eggplants in oil. You can also use avocado oil or vegetable oil if you’d like. The remaining of the olive oil is the base of the tomato sauce.
- Tomato Paste: Adds a more flavorful punch of tomato to the sauce.
- Diced Tomatoes: I use a can of diced tomatoes for this recipe without draining it. Be sure to use a good quality tomato to get the best flavor for this recipe. You could also use fresh tomatoes if they’re in season. I suggest simmering the tomatoes and removing the peel, then making tomato slices and using that to create the sauce.
- Plain yogurt: Plain yogurt works best for this recipe as it isn’t as thick as Greek yogurt.
- Dried mint: It’s a garnish that we’ll sprinkle on top right before serving this dip. You could also just add chopped fresh mint leaves if you’d like. Dried mint has a more mellow flavor and it’s easier to have on hand at all times!
- Fresh bread: Is for serving the dip with. You can serve this as an appetizer with wedges of naan or as a main meal.
How to make Borani Banjan:
- Treat the eggplants well. Start by slicing the eggplants into 1/2-inch thick slicess. Sprinkle the eggplants slices generously with 2 teaspoons of salt and place it in a colander over a plate or directly in the sink to drain. I know it sounds like a lot of salt, but we’ll brush and pat most of it off later. Allow the eggplant slices hang out. The salt with draw out a lot of that moisture, making it easier to fry without the eggplant absorbing too much oil. After 45 minutes, we’ll spread the slices on paper towel and gently press to absorb the water and brush to flake off the excess salt.
- Simmer the sauce. Add a glug of oil to a sauce pan and sauté all but of the garlic cloves in the oil until fragrant. Add the tomato paste, turmeric, and black pepper. Continue to saute in the sauce until the tomato paste deepens in color. Then add the diced tomatoes, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and a splash of water. Bring to a simmer before covering and allowing the sauce to simmer for 15-17 minutes. Then lift the lid and press down on the tomatoes. They should be soft. If the sauce isn’t thick, lift the lid and let simmer until it resembles a chunky pasta sauce.
- Fry the eggplants. Add 2-inch of oil to a large pot over medium high heat. Fry the eggplants in 2-3 batches fliipping halfway until golden brown on both sides. Drain the slices on a paper towel lined plate or tray.
- Simmer it all. In a wide bottom pot, add 1/4 of the prepared tomato sauce, top with 1/3 of the eggplant and repeat this until all the sauce and eggplants are layered in the dish. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and allow the mixture to heat through over low heat. This will allow all the flavors to mingle and blend.
- Garlic sauce. While the eggplant is simmering, grab a small bowl and whip the yogurt with a fork or whisk. add the remaining teaspoon of garlic to the yogurt and mix to combine. In a serving dish, swoop 1/4 cup of the yogurt and spread it out. Top with the tomato and eggplant mixture and drizzle the remaining yogurt over the eggplants. Sprinkle with dried mint. Serve warm with a drizzle of chili oil/olive oil if desired with naan bread.
FAQs about this recipe:
- Do I have to fry the eggplant? You could also spray the eggplant with cooking spray and bake it in the oven instead. You’ll need to play around with the temperature and timing as I’ve only tested this recipe with fried eggplant.
- How do you suggest storing leftovers? I usually keep the yogurt and the tomato and eggplant stew separately. This makes it easier to reheat the eggplant mixture without having to heat the yogurt. Just layer and serve!
- Can I make this in advance? You can. I typically make the eggplant mixture 1 or 2 days ahead. Just reheat the mixture, then make the garlic yogurt fresh the day of, right before layering and serving.
If you like this recipe, you might also like:
- Weeknight Chana Masala
- Garlicky Palak Paneer (Saag Paneer)
- 30-Minute Shrimp Masala
- Homemade Beef Samosas
- Perfect Basmati Rice
- 2 medium eggplants (~ 1½ pounds), peeled
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
- Oil for frying, plus more
- 6 cloves pressed garlic, divided
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 2 teaspoons dried mint, for topping
- naan wedges, for serving
- EGGPLANTS: Slice the eggplants into ½ inch thick slices. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt and allow the eggplant to sit for 45-60 minutes in a colander in the sink or over a rimmed plate. Then spread eggplants over paper towels and gently press to dry and wipe away most of the salt.
- SAUCE: While the eggplant is draining, add 2 tablespoons of oil to a sauce pan. Save 1 teaspoon of minced garlic for later, add the rest to the oil and saute for 45 seconds. Add the tomato paste, turmeric, and black pepper and saute for another 60 seconds or until the tomato paste is fragrant. Add the can of diced tomatoes, crushed pepper flakes, ¼ teaspoon of salt, ½ cup of water and bring to a simmer. When simmering, cover the pot with a lid and lower the heat to low; let cook for 15-17 minutes for the flavors to blend. Check to see if the sauce is thick like a chunky pasta sauce. If it isn’t, remove the lid, kick the heat up to medium and simmer until it thickens.
- FRY: Add 2-inches of oil to a pot over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, fry the eggplant in 2-3 batches, flipping halfway until golden brown on both sides, about 7-9 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.
- SIMMER: In a wide bottom pan, add ¼ of the prepared sauce, top with ⅓ of the eggplants, then repeat these layers until all the sauce and all the eggplants are layered. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid, turn the heat on to medium-low and allow the eggplants to cook in the sauce for 15 minutes. Prepare the yogurt sauce while you wait.
- SERVE: Add yogurt and the remaining teaspoon of minced garlic to a small bowl and whisk until smooth. When the eggplant is done, spread ½ cup of the yogurt sauce in your serving dish, top with tomato eggplant mixture, and finely drizzle the remaining yogurt oven the eggplant. Sprinkle with dried mint. I sometimes also like to drizzle with a little chili/olive oil right before serving! Serve with naan bread as an appetizer.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 225Total Fat: 15gCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 4g
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