*If you are new here, WELCOME! For Borani Banjan, I provide you with a brief summary about the recipe, other food ideas, tips and a recipe in that order!
Borani Banjan is a traditional Afghan dish layered with complex flavors, beginning with fried eggplant. This recipe was provided by Jeannee Sacken, author of Double Exposure, a novel about Afghanistan.
Double Exposure follows photojournalist, Annie Hawkins, as she returns to Afghanistan in 2015 to rebuild a school for girls destroyed by the Taliban.
Set during the unstable period when the Taliban desperately tried to regain power by launching terrorist attacks against Afghans, the novel is a fast-paced, heart-wrenching tale of the people who stood strong in the face of terrorism.
Unfortunately in August 2021, the Afghan government crumbled and the Taliban returned to power, shuttering schools for girls and launching further attacks against the Afghan people.
If you’ve never read a book about Afghanistan, I recommend you read this novel that highlights the oppression Afghan women and girls often face (especially in regards to education), but offers hope for change.
Beyond that, a portion of the proceeds from book sales go to charities supporting the education of women and girls, especially in Afghanistan! If you’d like to know more about the book, check out my full blog post with lots of extra content HERE.
Jeannee Sacken was kind enough to provide an authentic Afghan recipe to feature here on Book Club Bites. Her borani banjan is the perfect dish to pair with Double Exposure!
If you want to hear more about Jeannee’s life as a photojournalist and her novel, check out the fabulous Best of Women’s Fiction podcast where Jeannee Sacken discusses Double Exposure and more: HERE.
For Other Afghan Food Ideas:
I loved reading about all of the rich, Afghan food that Annie is passionate about in the book. There were plenty of different traditional Afghan foods mentioned throughout the novel, so if you want to create an Afghan menu, here are a few of the food ideas from the pages of Double Exposure:
- Chai tea – mentioned several times. It is also what Annie orders before the bikers stop to donate to Mel’s fundraiser
- Roat (Roht) bread- Annie brings the bread to the Faqiri’s for dinner. The Faqiri’s serve kabuli palaw (lamb and rice dish), banjan borani (see recipe below), and qorma e sabzi (spinach stew)
- Annie arrives at Ikrom and Gulshan’s – nan and lamb and eggplant
- Other food Gulshan serves – fried potatoes and peppers with canned tomatoes topped with eggs and garnished with cilantro, roasted and stewed lamb
Luckily, if you aren’t sure about creating your own Afghan dish, Jeannee Sacken has provided us with the recipe for banjan borani or borani banjan.
Made with fried eggplant, spicy onions and peppers, stewed tomatoes and topped with creamy yogurt, this dish is a flavorful and unique option to indulge in while reading Double Exposure.
You can serve it with nan (Afghan bread) or alone.
The recipe makes a large batch, only half is pictured!
I encourage you to make it for your family and discuss what is happening in Afghanistan today and the events over the last twenty years that have shaped the country.
A few tips on cooking Borani Banjan:
Here are a few tips to help make your cooking experience the best it can be!
1) If you’ve never bought eggplant before, test the eggplant by pressing against the skin. It should give slightly then bounce back. If it’s too soft or your finger leaves an indent, it’s probably not good.
2) If you don’t have sunflower oil, canola or olive oil can be substituted.
3) After you have cooked the eggplants and tomatoes, then removed the eggplants, you can smash the tomatoes lightly if they haven’t broken down to your liking.
Borani Banjan Recipe:
- Sunflower oil for deep-frying plus ½ cup extra
- 2 eggplants peeled and halved lengthways
- 1 large yellow onion sliced into semicircles
- 6 garlic cloves coarsely chopped
- 2 moderately hot fresh red chilies thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground red pepper
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 5 large tomatoes sliced
- ½ cup boiling water
- Fresh mint and ground red paper to serve
FOR THE YOGURT DRESSING
- 2 cups Greek yogurt
- 1 garlic clove crushed
- In a large saucepan, heat enough oil for deep-frying to 325 degrees on an oil thermometer.Sunflower oil for deep-frying plus ½ cup extra
- Gently add eggplant pieces, without overcrowding the pan, and fry, flipping them over occasionally, until they are golden on both sides and soft all the way through. Set aside in a colander placed over a bowl to catch the excess oil and repeat with the remain eggplant pieces.2 eggplants
- Heat the extra oil in a large frying pan over high heat and fry the onion, garlic, and fresh chilies, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Reduce the heat to low and add the coriander, sugar, turmeric, ground red pepper, vinegar, and 1 Tablespoon salt, stirring for 2 minutes, for the flavors to combine.1 large yellow onion, 6 garlic cloves, 2 moderately hot fresh red chilies, 2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1 teaspoon white sugar, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon ground red pepper, 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- Arrange the tomato slices over this base to cover then add the boiling water.5 large tomatoes, ½ cup boiling water
- Gently layer the eggplant pieces on top and increase the heat to high. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, to make the yogurt dressing, mix the yogurt, garlic, and ½ teaspoon salt in a bowl to combine well.2 cups Greek yogurt, 1 garlic clove
- Spread half the yogurt dressing over a large serving platter, then using a flat spoon, gently lift out the eggplant pieces and arrange them over the yogurt, without overlapping. Spoon the onion and tomato sauce over the eggplant and decoratively drizzle the remaining yogurt dressing on top. Garnish with mint leaves and red pepper. Serve hot.Fresh mint and ground red paper, salt
More Fun from Jeannee Sacken:
Please insert a short description of your recipe and why it relates to your novel. Include any information you think readers would enjoy!
Banjan Borani (eggplant in tomato and yogurt sauce) is Annie Hawkins’ favorite dish. It’s delicious and has been prepared for me by various book clubs I’ve visited to discuss BEHIND THE LENS. It also features in the second book in the series, DOUBLE EXPOSURE.
Would like to credit someone besides yourself for the recipe?
Farida Ayubi developed this recipe and published it in her cookbook, Parwana. She also serves it at her restaurant of the same name.
Did you sample any interesting food while researching this book? Or experience anything exciting while researching?
Absolutely. My novel is set primarily in Afghanistan, and I did a great deal of research on Afghan (Dari) cuisine. I also ate as much Afghan food as I could!
Find Jeannee Sacken:
Jeannee can be found online!
Have you tried Borani Banjan? What did you think? What other Afghan foods have you tried and enjoyed?
Until next time, Happy Reading!
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