Monday, March 27, 2006

Eggplant Salad (Bonjan)

OK, so who else thinks of Afganistan when they think of good food? No, not me either, at least not until I tried this fantastic dish. I recevied this recipe on a calender from Catholic Relief Services Operation Rice Bowl. While researching this recipe further (after cooking & loving it), I discovered that an Afgani menu would indeed be quite flavorful. Check out the Afgan Cooking Channel for some more interesting Afgani menu items.
I also found a great site for eggplant recipes - Ashbury's Aubergines. They've got everything eggplant there, including a few dozen ways to make Baba Ghanoush, which is not just fun to say, it's delicious. If you like hummus, you'll love Baba Ghanoush.

Ah, but I'm getting off track...

I served this Bonjan Salat, or Spicy Eggplant Salad at room temperature with just some bread. It would be great with pita. I'm not really sure I made it toally correct, but it tasted great and I WILL DEFINATELY be making it again.

Bonjan Salat(as I made it):
1 Large eggplant
2-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup corn oil
1-1/2 cups tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon hot red chili flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon crushed dried mint

Slice the eggplants crosswise into 3/4 inch thick pieces.
Sprinkle them with salt and let stand for 15 minutes (this is to draw out any bitterness).
Pat dry with paper towel (no they won't taste salty).
Heat a large skilet over medium to medium-high heat and put a thin coat of oil in the bottom.
Brush the eggplant slices generously with oil and place them oily side down in the pan in a single layer (you may have to do multiple batches).
Brush the tops of the slices generously with oil.
Brown both sides of the eggplant slices, about 5 minutes total.
Remove them to a serving bowl (I used a stainless steel bowl) to cool.
The slices broke up a bit and I helped break them up further.

In a small saucepan, combine the tomato sauce, pepper, chili flakes, cinnamon and mint and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes.
Pour the sauce over the eggplant and rerigerate until ready to use. Serve cold or at room temperature.

The above recipe is bit different than those that I've found online, such as this one, but I'm really pleased at how it came out. I will probably use the commonly recommended 3 medium eggplants next time, though. (see this google search for more versions of Bonjan and decide on one for yourself.


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