Bourani Banjan

The first time one of my Middle Eastern friends cooked me dinner I could’ve sworn she made an entire bottle of olive oil disappear into the dish. To be honest I expected it to be greasy, heavy and unpleasant, but none of that was the case. In my culinary upbringing, we were conservative with fats and often used margarine. Nutritional science has since evolved and after going to a French cuisine-based culinary school I now know better. Good food needs butter. Good Middle Eastern food needs olive oil. This Afghan eggplant dish will be a nice exercise in loosening your olive oil wrist. And you know what? Olive oil isn’t bad for you, either!


• olive oil

• salt

• 2 eggplants

• 3 cloves garlic, grated

• 1 can diced tomatoes

• 2 tsp turmeric

• dried chilli flakes to taste

Yoghurt sauce ingredients

• 1 cup Greek style yoghurt

• 1 clove of garlic

• 1 bunch fresh mint


1. Cut the eggplants into slices of about a centimetre thick. Discard the tops. Place the slices on a cooling rack and salt lightly on both sides. Let sit for about ten minutes to draw out moisture and bitterness. Pat dry with a paper towel.

2. Preheat the oven to 350F.

Photo by Selma Van Halder

3. Shallow fry the eggplant in olive oil in a heavy bottomed skillet on a medium high heat on your stove until lightly browned. You’ll have to do this in batches. Use a colander to collect your cooked eggplant. Place it in a baking dish to catch any excess oil. Reuse the oil with your next batches.

4. Turn the heat down to medium. Use your skillet with about two tablespoons of oil (discard the rest) to lightly fry the garlic, turmeric, and chilli flakes (if using) for about a minute. Add the tomatoes and simmer for about ten minutes to form a tomato sauce.

5. Meanwhile prepare the yoghurt sauce by combining yoghurt, grated garlic and chopped fresh mint in a bowl.

6. Layer your eggplant and tomato sauce into your oven safe baking dish. Finish with the last of your tomato sauce.

7. Bake in the oven for about 15 more minutes. Top with the yoghurt sauce and garnish with mint leaves. Serve with jasmine rice or flatbread.