Eggplant with Tomato and Yogurt

Banjan Borani (Eggplant with tomato and yogurt)...The tangy, garlic-laced yogurt contrasts nicely with the sweet tomato sauce and tender eggplant. It’s garnished with dried mint (don't use fresh), which you can find in the spice section of a supermarket or in a Middle Eastern market. Serves ten.

Vegetable oil
2 yellow onions, sliced thin (about 2 cups)
1 tsp. turmeric
32 oz. canned crushed tomatoes
6 oz. (1 small can) tomato paste
2 1/2 tsp. salt
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into four pieces
16 oz. plain yogurt
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large eggplant (about 2 1/2 lb. total), unpeeled, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
2 to 3 Tbs. crushed dried mint

Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large saucepan until hot. Add the onions and sauté them, stirring occasionally, until light brown, about 20 min. Sprinkle in the turmeric and stir to coat the onions. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 1/2 tsp. of the salt, and green pepper. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring often to prevent the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning, until all the water evaporates and the mixture thickens, about 30 min. Keep the sauce warm while you proceed.

Whisk together the yogurt and garlic in a bowl, add the remaining 1 tsp. salt, and set aside.

Cook the eggplant by either frying it on the stove or broiling it in the oven. To fry the eggplant, heat 1/2 cup of oil in a large frying pan. When the oil is hot, slide in as many eggplant slices as can fit in the pan in a single layer. Cook the eggplant until the bottom is soft and brown, and then flip the pieces over and brown the other side, about 4 min. per side. Once browned, remove the eggplant from the oil with a flat, slotted spatula and put the slices in the tomato sauce. Add more oil to the frying pan as needed and cook the rest of the eggplant in batches the same way.

If you choose to broil the eggplant instead, brush the rounds with oil and arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Broil until browned and soft on top, flip them over, brush with more oil, and brown the other side, about 4 min. on each side. Put the cooked eggplant in the tomato sauce. When all the eggplant is in the tomato sauce, hold the handles of the saucepan and shake the pot from side to side until most of the slices are covered with sauce. If you like, remove the green pepper. Keep warm over low heat.

To assemble the eggplant, spread one-quarter of the yogurt mixture on the bottom of a deep, flat serving dish or platter. Using a flat spatula, dish out the eggplant and sauce mixture and spread it over the yogurt. Drizzle the rest of the yogurt mixture on top. Sprinkle the dried mint over the yogurt and serve.

Source of recipe: Ali Seraj, Fine Cooking #6

http://www.taunton.com/finecooking/menues/royal-afghan-dinner-rice-vegetables-spices-lamb.aspx?ac=fp