Borani Banjan & All The Global Variations:
Borani Banjan is an Afghani classic side dish of layered eggplants, yogurt and tomatoes. Eggplant and yogurt combination is enjoyed in many parts of the world from the Mediterranean region to the Indian subcontinent with many variations in the recipe. In Iran, Pakistan and India a very similar dip is made with roasted eggplant, called Borani Bademjan or Baingan ka Raita. The Turkish version of Borani is enriched with beans and bulgur. In Kurdish cuisine it’s called boranîk. A close similar is known as alborania in Spainand served as a starter – probably an influence from Andalus period. Borani is also associated with Jewish-Persian cuisine because it does not contain meat ( meat and dairy cannot be mixed in Jewish cuisine). In Iran, you will find borani served as a side dish very frequently on the Shavuot, Easter or Hanukkah festivals
I’ve been enjoying this delicious dish since my childhood, without giving a moment’s thought to how it landed in my Punjabi family. My mother used to make Borani Banjan very frequently in summer. A traditional recipe passed on from her Afghani ancestors, that got assimilated into the local cuisine as they migrated to India many many years ago . It’s amazing that something so simple with so few ingredients can have oodles of flavor and such far reaching connections!
What Is Borani? How Borani Banjan Became Quintessentially Afghani:
According to some Persian scholars, the word “borani” comes from the Sassanid Empire which was the last Persian dynasty before the Muslim conquest in the mid 7th century AD. It would have evolved into porani and then borani. However, others disagree and believe the name borani comes from a queen of Iran named Boran, the first woman to have reigned in Persia. While Encyclopædia Iranica states that the name Borani comes from the Iranian poet Boran, founder of the Abassid period. Regardless of the origins of the name, most Persian chefs believe that any dish with garlic and yogurt is called borani.
Now Afghan cuisine is mainly influenced by that of Persia, India and Mongolia. But Afghan cuisine has a style of it’s own. Afghans like their food neither too hot nor too spicy. The use of yogurt is frequent as a dressing, topping or side – kind of like the Italians use cheese. Borani Banjan is quintessentially Afghani. Some recipes use grilled eggplants, some broiled and others pan-fried. Some are heavily sauced, while some let the main ingredient shine more. No matter what the method, yogurt and eggplant compliment each other in a big way.
How to Serve Borani
Traditionally, Borani is eaten cold with bread that is dipped directly into the preparation. Well, I grew up eating it as a simple summer side dish for lentils or whatever main was cooked at home. Cool yogurt sides were and still are an essential part of summer menu at our place. They make the meal feel lighter and keep the thirst at bay for longer. It can be great served as a starter or as part of mezze platter. I love to eat it all on it’s own for a light, healthy and carbs free lunch. But whenever I cook up a full fledged Afghan feast, it pairs beautifully with Kabuli Pulao and Namkeen Gosht.
If You Like This Recipe, Also Check
- Kabuli Pulao
- Borani Esfanaaj, Spinach Yogurt Dip
- Namkeen Gosht, Lamb Joint in Salt
- Afghani Bolani Bread
- 1 large eggplant
- 2 cups yogurt
- 3 table spoons ghee or cooking oil
- 1 large tomato, diced
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste (optional for vibrant color)
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- Mint leaves and green chilli pepper for garnishing
This Is What You Do:
Cut the eggplant into round slices, almost 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle the slices with 1/4 teaspoon salt and leave for 5-7 minutes to sweat. Wash and drain.
Grease a medium frying pan or grill with 2 table spoons of oil. Toast the eggplant pieces on low heat till tender inside and crispy, golden brown on both sides.
Arrange them in a deep platter, overlapping each other slightly.
In another bowl mix black pepper and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt into the yogurt, set aside.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon ghee/oil to the pan, fry crushed garlic for 1 minute then add the cumin seeds and red chilli flakes and fry another few seconds.
Add tomato and a little sprinkling of water. Cook till the tomatoes are tender. Turn the heat off.
Pour the yogurt over eggplant slices.
Pour the tomato mixture over the top. Garnish with chopped mint and sliced green chilli.
Serve as a side with daal( lentils) or meat main.