In my early teens I babysat for a family in my neighborhood whose fridge was stocked with all manner of exotic foods; at least exotic to my 13-year old self. In particular I remember a jar of what appeared to be preserved baby vegetables with a foreign sounding name. It was called “horse de oovers.”I couldn’t imagine what country it was from but I figured it was perhaps a Swedish delicacy.
It wasn’t until I took up French a year or two later that I learned the label actually read “hors d’oeurves”, just a fancy name for appetizers. I never did venture into that little jar of pickled vegetables. Likely I was far too busy making a dent in the family’s supply of Haagen Daz. Or perhaps I have just never been a fan of appetizers.
Afghans aren't particularly big on hors d’oeurves either. There is no such thing as the cocktail hour. Never mind that there are no cocktails; this is a teetotaling country after all. But Afghans are very fond of eggplant. They pickle it, make stews out of it, fry it, roast it and braise it. This Banjan recipe features sliced eggplant smothered in paprika, turmeric and coriander-spiced tomato sauce. The whole lot is then baked until very tender and pureed. It is served with a generous helping of garlicky Greek yogurt.
Banjan makes a superb side dish, is wonderful on sandwiches, and yes, is a delicious hors d’oevre along with toasted pita chips. It’s the perfect sort of thing to set out for a summer buffet. Banjan also makes a killer leftover, so be sure to squirrel some away before your guests gobble it all down. Label the Tupperware “horse de oovers”. That way anyone poking around in your fridge will think you are very exotic, and perhaps very Swedish.
Roasted Eggplant Spread with Garlicky Yogurt
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, peeled, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
¼ cup tomato sauce
1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp. ground paprika
1 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
¾ tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 large eggplant, peeled, cut into 1/3- inch slices
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, thinly sliced
Yogurt sauce (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and turmeric, turn the heat to low and sauté for a few minutes. Don’t let the garlic burn. Add the tomato sauce, coriander, paprika, salt, pepper and broth. Stir, turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
Layer the eggplant and pepper slices in a 9x13 inch roasting pan. Pour the sauce over the vegetables, moving the eggplant and peppers around a bit so they are lightly coated with the sauce. Set in the oven to bake.
After 25 minutes, stir the vegetables around in the pan to coat them with the juices. Continue to bake another 30 minutes or until the eggplant is very tender. Transfer the contents of the roasting pan to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Serve warm or cold with Yogurt Sauce spooned over the top and pita bread cut into wedges, brushed with olive oil, dusted with salt and toasted.
¾ cup Greek-style yogurt
1 tsp. dried garlic
3/4 tsp. Kosher salt
In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients.
Except where otherwise noted, all content on this blog is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported license.