|Brinjal or Eggplant or Aubergine|
This vegetable of the Nightshade family is known by different names in different parts of the world: Aubergine in France, Eggplant in North America, and here in India we know it as Brinjal. Brinjal is native to India and there are nearly 2500 varieties of Brinjal grown here. They can be white, green, purple, round, long, huge, tiny, striped, etc. So when I sourced my brinjal seeds from the local nursery without knowing the variety, there was much suspense about the kind of fruit I would get. Nearly three months later I found out that my brinjal is the small, round, purple variety.
Before cooking brinjal, one is advised to salt, rinse and drain it, to rid it of its slight bitterness. Raw Brinjal, in fact, can’t be eaten as they are somewhat bitter; the reason is that they contain minute amounts of nicotine. Here’s a fun fact sourced from Wikipedia: Nine Kgs of brinjal contain a cigaretteful of nicotine. But once brinjal is cooked, its flesh turns succulent, almost melting, with a rich, slightly meaty flavour. This vegetable is extremely versatile and there are a mind boggling number of recipes that one can choose from around the world. Very often, the brinjals in my kitchen find their way into sambhar, vangi bhaat (brinjal rice) or a tomato brinjal curry. Yet, Deep-fried Brinjal slices (Sicilian style) and Baba Ghanoush are my favourites.
|A Recent Harvest|
|Salted Brinjal Slices: To be Rinsed and Drained|
Baba Ghanoush is a wonderful Middle Eastern dish, in which baked brinjal is mashed and combined with olive oil and seasoning. There are many more mouthwatering brinjal recipes. Like the Turkish Imam Bayildi (brinjals stuffed with tomato, garlic and onions and simmered in olive oil). Imam Bayildi literally means the “Imam (Muslim Priest) fainted”; he fainted after eating the dish as it was so good. Now, with an interesting name like that, one is strongly urged to try it out.
Let me sign off with the story of an unusal experiment. An Indian farmer from Chattisgarh has grafted Tomato and Brinjal into a single plant and is getting good results. Since both tomato and brinjal belong to the same family, such an experiment is possible. Here is the link to the video. Can we further this logic and grow all Solanaceae species in the same plant. Can we have a “potato, tomato, chilly, capsicum and brinjal all-in-one” plant? Somehow, I find the idea disagreeable, even if it is to bear fruit (pun intended).