Borani Banjan (made healthier)

Layers of baked eggplants, tomato sauce and a garlic yogurt sauce. Serve it as a side or main, this dish will be an eye catcher on your table.

I first saw this dish on an Afghani restaurant’s menu which we were planning to visit for my birthday in 2020. The beautiful colors and layers of this dish instantly caught my eyes. Being an aubergine fan myself, I was keen on trying it. Unfortunately, as it happened a lockdown was imposed just a day before my birthday and we could not go to dine out. So, I decided to try making borani banjan at home.

I watched and read a few different recipes on internet, but was a little sceptical of trying it because it involved deep frying the aubergines which would have made the dish very heavy and calorie dense. So I gave it my own ‘healthier’ twist and made some other modifications . When i tried it, it was love at first bite. It tasted as good as it looked. I was surprised that my elder one, who otherwise doesn’t like aubergines in any other dish, had three servings of my borani banjan.

How is this recipe healthier?

Traditionally, aubergines are fried for this recipe. Aubergines soak a lot of oil while being fried and this makes the traditional version very greasy and calorie rich. I bake the aubergines in oven after brushing with some olive oil, instead of deep frying them. For the tomato sauce also I use minimal oil. This makes my version lighter and healthier, without compromising on taste.

What’s the twist in the recipe?

Apart from healthier twist (aubergines being baked rather than fried), I added pomegranate seeds and pine nuts as toppings. This makes the dish even more visually appealing while also adding extra nutrients to it. The toppings also add a nice texture and more flavor to the dish.

The Layers

It’s all about the layers of wonderful flavors in this dish. We prepare 3 different components and then assemble them all together. The layers are repeated twice or thrice. Finally, we add the toppings before serving.

  • Layer 1- Baked aubergines: Aubergines are brushed with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, before being baked in the oven until tender. It’s hard for me to resist the aubergines that come out of the oven and save them for the dish. The ingredients required for this step are pictured below.
  • Layer 2- Tomato sauce: This is prepared in a skillet by cooking tomatoes in some spices. I use canned tomatoes (organic) for my sauce to save time. You could use fresh ones instead. It won’t affect the taste much. Below is a picture of ingredients.
  • Layer 3- Garlic yogurt sauce: This one is very simple to make, requiring only 3 ingredients. I use garlic powder so that it incorporates well into the yogurt and no one chews on a garlic chunk. However, you could also use fresh garlic. Make sure to finely grate the garlic or use garlic paste. Find a picture on the ingredients below.
  • Toppings/Garnish: The toppings are like ornaments for this dish, making it look stunning. Not only do they add to the looks, they also add texture and flavor to it. Following ingredients are needed for garnishing.

Watch the video instructions below to easily follow the recipe

Borani Banjan (made healthier)

Serve it as a side or main, this dish will be an eye catcher on your table.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Afghani
Servings 6 persons

Ingredients
  

Layer 1: Baked Eggplants/aubergine

  • 3 medium eggplants
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Layer 2: Tomato sauce

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cans (400 grams each) tomatoes (diced) (substitute 6 medium ripe tomatoes)
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Layer 3: Garlic yogurt sauce

  • 200 grams (1 cup) yogurt (beaten)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp garlic powder

Toppings/ garnish:

  • ½ tsp dried mint
  • 1 Tbsp pomegranate seeds
  • 1 Tbsp roasted pine nuts
  • ¼ tsp chili flakes (optional)

Instructions
 

Layer 1: Baked aubergines/eggplants

  • Set the oven to preheat on 180°Celsius (350 F).
  • Slice the aubergines in about half centimetre thick slices.
  • Place in a single layer onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. If you cannot fit them in a single layer on one tray, use two separate trays or bake in batches. Brush some olive oil onto each piece and season with salt and pepper. Then flip all the pieces and repeat brushing with oil and seasoning onto the other side as well.
  • Bake into the oven at 180°C for 20 minutes. Then flip and bake for another 20 minutes. Once baked, take out of the oven and keep aside.

Layer 2: Tomato sauce

  • (You can complete this step while the eggplants are still being baked). Peel and finely dice the onion.
  • Heat a skillet on medium heat and add the olive oil. Once hot add the diced onion and saute for 2 minutes.
  • Add the canned tomatoes, all the spices and salt. Turn the heat to medium low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once done, keep aside.

Layer 3: Garlic yogurt sauce

  • Add all the ingredients for the garlic yogurt sauce into a bowl. Mix until everything is well incorporated. Keep aside.

Assembly

  • Once all the layers are prepared, take a shallow dish. Add a single layer of baked aubergine (about 1/3 of the quantity) at the bottom, then spread ⅓ of the prepared tomato sauce, followed by ⅓ of prepared garlic yogurt sauce. Repeat the layers two more times.

Garnish

  • Finally, add the toppings/garnish all over the dish. Serve on room temperature.

Notes

  • You can make the components ahead of time. Store them separately until you are ready to serve the dish. Assembly must be done immediately before serving.
  • If you want to make a smaller quantity, use 2 small aubergines and divide all the other ingredients in half.
Keyword Afghan recipe, Afghani food, Afghani recipe, Aubergine recipe, Baked dish, baked recipe, daawat dish, Eggplant recipe, Healthier recipe, Layered dish, Oven baked

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