This Borani Banjan recipe (Afghan Eggplant with Garlic Yogurt Sauce) is a richly spiced stewed eggplant dish that’s served with tangy garlicky yogurt on top.
When I lived in the DC area, there was an Afghan restaurant about 5 minutes away that had the best eggplant. It was a simple side dish, often overlooked by the more popular sides like bread and rice.
(Let me pause for a minute to say, if you’ve never tried Afghan bread, you’ve been missing out! It’s similar to Indian naan, but a bit thicker and chewier. Like Indian naan, it contains yogurt and is also baked in a tandoor oven. It’s aromatic and soft and soooo good!)
Anyway, because I like to eat low carb as much as possible, I usually opted for the eggplant. It wasn’t even a hard choice, given how delicious Afghan eggplant is!
I asked the owner for the recipe, but he told me that he buys it pre-made every day from an old woman from Afghanistan. With a shrug and a smile, he said “she just calls it eggplant”.
Then he looked pensive and said “I know there’s olive oil in it too!” I laughed and thanked him, because yes, it was quite apparent that there was a good deal of olive oil in it.
That left me with a mission to come with the recipe!
Borani Banjan (Afghan Eggplant) Recipe
You can find this recipe transliterated as Borani Banjan or Bourani Banjan. My version is based on a rendition I used to order from an Afghan restaurant in the DC area when I lived there. However, there are also Pakistani, Turkish, Persian, and Armenian versions of this dish.
Borani Banjan is a richly spiced stewed eggplant dish with layers of flavor that blend together well. It has just enough spice to be interesting, but it's not spicy hot. It’s served with a garlicky yogurt on top, which adds creaminess and tangy to perfectly offset the complexity of the eggplant.
This dish makes a wonderful side dish, or you can serve it as a vegetarian light summer meal.
Sometimes I like to top it with a couple poached eggs. Served like this, it's reminiscent of both Turkish Eggs and Shakshuka!
Borani Banjan Ingredients
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Green bell pepper
- Vegetable broth
- Hot red chilli powder
- Black pepper
- Tomato Paste
- Plain unsweetened yogurt
- Water, if necessary to thin it out
How to Make Borani Banjan
You can make this recipe in the oven or using an electric pressure cooker to simplify the process.
No matter what cooking method you use, I recommend salting the eggplant before cooking to help reduce the bitterness that it can have.
How to Salt Eggplant
- Toss together the eggplant and salt in a large bowl. Let it sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. It will start to release its liquid.
- Put the eggplant in a fine mesh sieve and rinse it under cool running water. Gently squeeze out the excess liquid.
- Cook it!
Borani Banjan in the Oven
Making this recipe is usually a multi-step process:
- Bake the eggplant in the oven, or alternatively, fry it on the stovetop.
- Sauté the garlic and spices.
- Layer everything together (the eggplant, garlic/spices, tomatoes, and/or other vegetables), and then bake it again.
The end result is a flavorful stewed eggplant dish that’s much more delicious than the sum of its parts.
However, I have an easier way to make Afghan Eggplant – in an electric pressure cooker! And best of all, it doesn’t sacrifice the flavor.
Instant Pot Afghan Eggplant
I like to use an electric pressure cooker to make Borani Banjan. It speeds up and also simplifies the process.
And bonus, the only dish that you’ll need to clean is the inside of the Instant Pot!
How to Store Borani Banjan
Store this recipe in an airtight food storage container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Store the eggplant separate from the garlicky yogurt, and wait to add the yogurt until right before serving.
Tips for Making Borani Banjan
- Don't skip the step of salting the eggplant, letting it sit, rinsing it, and gently squeezing out the excess liquid. This helps reduce the bitterness that eggplant can sometimes have.
- Feel free to adjust the level of spicy heat in this recipe. Add more or less jalapeno and more or less hot red chilli powder as desired.
- You can serve this Afghan Eggplant dish warm or at room temperature, but the garlicky yogurt should be chilled.
More Eggplant Recipes to Try
- Sicilian Eggplant Relish (Caponata)
- Easy Fried Eggplant
- Low Carb Moussaka (Greek Beef Eggplant Casserole)
- Stuffed Eggplant
- Thai Eggplant Tempura
Borani Banjan Recipe (Afghan Eggplant with Garlic Yogurt Sauce)
- 1 ½ pounds eggplant chopped (up to 2 pounds of eggplant)
- 1 ½ teaspoons coarse kosher salt
- 1 large onion chopped
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil divided
- 6 large cloves garlic crushed
- 1 jalapeno minced
- 1 green bell pepper cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tomato diced, with juices
- ⅓ cup vegetable stock
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon hot red chilli powder more or less to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ cup plain unsweetened yogurt
- 1 small clove garlic crushed
- 1/16 teaspoon salt
- Water if necessary to thin it out
For the Eggplant:
- Toss together the eggplant and salt in a large bowl. Let it sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes while you chop the other vegetables. It will start to release its liquid.
- Turn the electric pressure cooker on, press “Sauté”, and wait 2 minutes for the pot to heat up. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and once hot, add the onion and cook until starting to soften, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic and jalapeno, and cook 1 minute more. Press “Cancel” to stop sautéing.
- Stir in the rest of the olive oil, the green bell pepper, tomato (with juices), vegetable stock, turmeric, chilli powder, black pepper, and tomato paste.
- Put the eggplant in a fine mesh sieve and rinse it under cool running water. Gently squeeze out the excess liquid. Transfer the eggplant to the pot of the electric pressure cooker with the other vegetables and give it a stir to combine.
- Turn the pot on Manual, High Pressure for 5 minutes, and then let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes before doing a quick release.
- Give it a good stir. It should have a thick stew-like consistency. If it needs thickening, turn the “Sauté” function on again and cook it for a couple minutes so that some of the liquid can evaporate off, stirring frequently. Taste and add salt if desired.
For the Garlicky Yogurt:
- Whisk together the yogurt, garlic, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in enough water so the mixture is pourable, but not too watery.
- Transfer the eggplant mixture to a serving dish. Drizzle the yogurt on top. Sprinkle on the dried mint and hot red chilli powder. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Net Carbs: 5g per serving
- Recipe Yield and Serving Size: This recipe yields about 6 cups, or 12 (½-cup) servings.
- Storage and Reheating: You can make this recipe up to 5 days ahead of time and store it covered in the fridge until serving. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave. Store the eggplant separate from the garlicky yogurt, and wait to add the yogurt until right before serving.
- Serving Temperature Tip: You can serve the eggplant warm or at room temperature, but the garlicky yogurt should be chilled.
- Paleo Version: To make this paleo, omit the garlicky yogurt.
This post was first published on An Edible Mosaic on March 27, 2020. I updated it with more information on August 9, 2021.