Eggplant braised in a spicy tomato sauce smothered with a mint-garlic yogurt sauce and garnished with fresh cilantro.
There's some zucchini mixed in cooked the same way for those who didn't like eggplant
The whole platter, as served to 15 hungry friends a couple weeks back:
This is a classic Afghan dish - one of the most renown and well-loved. My rendition here was made on a bit of a large scale and a time crunch, so the presentation wasn't as elegant as it can be (many of the eggplant slices broke). Kabul does and excellent version of this dish.
By request, the (approximate, as always with me) recipe:
1 large eggplant/2-3 zucchini (this is going to vary wildly on the size of your eggplants - I'm referring to the typical supermarket variety that is about 8" long and 4-5" in diameter - pear shaped)
1/2 can diced tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Canola (vegetable) oil, as needed, approximately 6 tbsps
1 tbps Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 tbps chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Cayenne or Red Pepper (optional)
For the yogurt sauce - Seer Moss - literally "garlic yogurt":
1 cup plain yogurt (fattier the better - greek is truly divine, though a bit hard on the arteries)
4 cloves Garlic, pressed or smashed and minced (to taste - I like it strong)
~2 tbsps Lemon/Lime Juice
2+ tbps minced fresh mint (this can be omitted, but is typical)
2 tbps Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Slice eggplants (or zucchini) thickly - 1/4"
If using eggplants, salt liberally on both sides. Let drain for 30 min - 1 hr. Rinse clean and pat dry.
Heat olive oil on low heat and add garlic. Saute until fragrant but not brown and reserve.
Fry both sides on med-high with the canola oil until golden brown, adding more oil as needed. Be sure to heat the oil first and spread it around so one slice doesn't soak it all up. This is not a low-fat dish! But do not deep fry.
Reduce heat to low and add tomatoes, cilantro, reserved garlic and olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Add water if needed to keep from frying - you want it to simmer with the liquid level at about the same height as the eggplant.
Simmer for 20 minutes, until the eggplant is very tender.
For the sauce:
Combine all ingredients and let chill for at least one hour. If you are short on time, add the mint to the lemon juice and let sit for at least twenty minutes, then combine with the rest of the ingredients.
Note: Omit the oil if using whole-milk or greek yogurt.
I promise - even if you don't like eggplants, you will probably like this dish. The end product should feel fresh and light, in spite of the oil content.
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