Eggplants (aka Brinjal and Aubergine) are used in cuisines throughout the world, from European to African, Middle East, SE Asia and Japan. The large purple-black aubergine is common in the West. In SE Asia, the tiny hard pea aubergines and the round green aubergines about 2.5 cm in diameter, quite different to the purple variety, are also used. Their smallness and hardness make them good ingredients for boiled dishes, like Thai curries or Laotian curries, in which they remain al dente. They can be bitter in flavour so you might like to salt them first. Small, long ladyfinger eggplants are also used. (Don’t confuse ladyfinger eggplants with ladyfinger okra (India) or ladyfinger bananas (Australia). )
The aubergine is originally from India, and it appeared in the Middle East in the 7th and 8th centuries. There are literally thousands of ways of cooking this vegetable across SE Asia, India, the Middle East and the Mediterranean countries. You can browse our Eggplant Recipes here.
When frying an aubergine be gentle. Ask its permission first, then thank the Lord.
— Armenian Saying.
- A genuinely wonderful article on the many different sorts of eggplants.
Shopping for Eggplants
When shopping for eggplants, the dark purple variety, choose the ones with the darkest, shiniest skins with no shrivelling. Choose the smaller to medium sized fruit – very large ones may have big seeds and can be bitter. Of course, this depends on the variety of the eggplant, so experiment a little. You will find that the older, usually larger seedier ones are also paler, as if the sun has bleached their colour.
Younger aubergines don’t need salting, and can become soggy with salting. It is usual to leave the skin on the eggplant when cooking, although some people can have a reaction to it. In these cases, try removing the skin.
Don’t forget to browse all of our Eggplant recipes. This vegetable is so versatile, we have dozens of different dishes, including Indian, Italian and Middle Eastern.
browse some of the Eggplants Series
- Arai Puli Kuzhambu (Mildly Sour “Soup”): A Wet and Tangy Vegetable Curry with Eggplant and Potato
- Aubergine Fourree (Eggplants Stuffed with Tomatoes and Peppers)
- Baingan Kabharta – Eggplant Curry
- Brinjal Fry — Deepfried Eggplant
- BrinjalFry — Sauteed Eggplant with Spices
- Eggplant with Sesame and Soy
- Eggplant with Mirin and Miso Paste
- Narasihman’s Sweet Potato, Eggplant and Spinach Madras Curry
- Peppers and Eggplants – Grilled and Oiled
- Tender Eggplant