Preface: I apologize for the unintentional two shares of the Gulpea post. I was having some technical difficulties with my platform. The problem is fixed (fingers crossed).
Last night when I was pondering what to write about in this year’s Thanksgiving blog post, I ran across an article singing the praises of Friendsgiving, a word I wasn’t familiar with so I Googled it and here is how the Merriam Webster website defines it—Friendsgiving is a blend of friend and Thanksgiving, and it refers to a large meal eaten with friends either on or near Thanksgiving. Say what? Have I been living under a rock? Why haven’t I known about this word/practice/tradition? Clearly, I’m not on anyone’s Friendsgiving list, that’s why.
Putting that little finding aside, I want to encourage everyone to try something new this year, bring a little pizazz to your Thanksgiving and Friendsgiving meal by cooking my newest take on Borani Banjan, Afghan Eggplant. Yes, I’ve posted about this recipe before but in this video demonstration you’ll see healthy, easy version of the recipe. Also, as an added bonus, you’ll meet my daughter Sofia and I have added a little segment called “Quick Culture”, where you’ll learn something about the language of Afghanistan.
Of course, if you want to be more adventurous then add several Afghan dishes. In general Afghan food is mild and goes well with many kinds of meat or starch dishes. Check out last year’s when I shared several Afghan sides and dessert for your Thanksgiving meal.
Now, let’s get back to my new and easy vegetarian Afghan eggplant video demonstration. You might be saying, Humaira, it’s November, eggplant season ended a month ago. For better and for worse, American markets stock eggplant all year around so you can make this dish anytime but pay close attention to the quality of your eggplant during the off season…in this article Bon Appétit suggests looking for a firm eggplant with smooth shiny skin, with a green stem end.
If you’ve read this far, I know you’re committed and will make this dish. I promise it won’t disappoint your taste buds…as the eggplant, lathered with rich tomato sauce bakes, all the flavors and textures melt together. When it’s done, the whole thing is covered with garlicky yogurt and served with pita bread for scooping up all the last bits of deliciousness.
Another way to serve this dish at your Friendsgiving, serve it as a starter while the turkey is baking. All you need to do is to run the cooked Borani Banjan through a food processor until creamy, put in a medium size serving bowl, drizzle the yogurt sauce on top and serve with pita chips. It’s healthier and heartier than the same old cheese platter. Please let me know in the comments section how your family celebrates Thanksgiving/Friendsgiving. I welcome your comments on this recipe.
Happy whatever you celebrate, Friendsgiving or Thanksgiving. I’ll be with my mom, sisters and brother in Los Angeles celebrating Thanksgiving and hopefully a few Friendsgiving meals before and after.
Luscious Afghan Eggplant
2 medium eggplants
1/2 cup olive oil
8 garlic minced
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
1 red bell pepper slivered
1 cup Greek-style yogurt
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Slice off the ends of the eggplants and cut them in half lengthwise. Cut each half crosswise in 1/3-inch thick slices. Salt each piece of eggplant, both sides, set in a colander to sweat for half to an hour.
While the eggplant is sweating, make the tomato sauce. Heat olive oil in a small heavy pan, add garlic, saute’ for two minutes until garlic is brown. Add all spices and the tomato sauce plus the pepper flakes to the pan. Let the sauce simmer on low for 5-8 minutes.
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
If the eggplant is done with the sweating process 1/2 hr to 1 hour, rinse with cold water, dry each piece with a paper towel to get the salt off.
Arrange the eggplant in a large pan, brushing tomato sauce on each piece (see the video demonstration for detailed instructions). Arrange a few slivers of the bell pepper on the layers of the eggplant. Once done, cover with a tight-fitting lid or aluminum foil to keep all the heat and moisture in.
Bake for 40-45 minutes. If there is extra liquid in the pan, remove the lid, and broil for 5 minutes.
Mix together the Greek yogurt, garlic, and salt. Pour the yogurt sauce over the eggplant and serve with pita or nan bread.
Serves four to six.