December 29, 2010

International Bento (Afghanistan): Burani Bonjon

I realize that I have not yet posted any of the holiday baking or cooking that we have done this past month, and I'm not going to get to it again, either. I confess to be a little weary of butter tarts, shortbread, and cranberry oat squares at this point, and I'm right back to craving the savory foods that we tend to rely upon.

This bento was constructed from leftovers from a dinner that Palle cooked earlier this month, and we're definitely going to have it again. The lamb curry in almond milk (a sort of Afghani korma, if you will) was tasty but a tad monotone, and may want a little tweaking, before I'm ready to post it up. The eggplant dish, however, Burani Bonjon, was outstanding. Outstanding! Here it is again below, as we had it the first night, since I fairly drowned it in yoghurt sauce in the bento picture.

One of the marvelous things about this dish is that it is served at room temperature, or chilled, meaning that it a) can be made in advance, and b) is perfect for bento (although, I did remove the lamb curry from the bento to warm it up anyway). The other marvelous thing is that, while consisting wholly of familiar flavours, the combination was so delicious that I really could not get it into my mouth fast enough.

Burani Bonjon
Serves 4

1 large eggplant (about 8" long)
200 ml. canned diced tomatoes, drained
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon powdered cayenne
salt & pepper to taste
Aleppo pepper (for garnish)
Seer Moss (for garnish, see recipe below)

Slice the eggplant into coins. Lightly, but liberally salt both sides and allow to rest on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet for about an hour, to draw out the bitterness. Rinse the salt off, and pat the slices very dry.

Saute the crushed garlic in half the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet until fragrant, the remove the garlic to the side. Add the (dried) eggplant slices to the skillet and brown both sides, cooking in batches if necessary, and adding the remaining oil as needed (eggplant soaks up oil pretty fast).

Reduce the heat and add the tomato, garlic, turmeric, cayenne, salt and pepper. Simmer until the eggplant is very tender. Serve warm, or at room temperature (not hot!). Drizzle with Seer Moss and sprinkle with chopped cilantro and Aleppo pepper.

Seer Moss: Garlic Yoghurt Sauce

This makes a lot of sauce, but you will love it as a vegetable dip, or as an alternative to Tzatziki, so make the whole batch.

1 cup plain yoghurt
3 - 4 cloves crushed garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch salt

Combine and let chill for at least an hour to allow the flavours to meld, but remove from fridge 15 minutes before serving, to take the chill off.

I can't wait to have this again.


Dawna said...

If you don't have access to Aleppo pepper, you might want to substitute a smoked paprika.

Dawna said...

I've realized that there is twice as much tomato in this recipe as there should be, and have now adjusted that accordingly. You can also use dried tomatoes, rehydrating if they are super leathery.