Monday, 18 July 2011

Brinjal or Eggplant or Aubergine - What's in a Name?

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. 
Brinjal Bounty
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).


  1. Have you tried "Aubergine Caviar"? Actually, this is not one of my favourite veg, because the ones we get here tend to be spongy on the inside, with tough skin on the outside. They are bred more for their looks than for their flavour or texture.

  2. Baba Ghanoush has its Indian counterpart - baingan bharta. Brinjal is grilled directly on coals or on a gas fire, the charred skin is discarded, and then it is seasoned with mustard oil, onions and green chillies. That is among my favorite brinjal recipes.

  3. Looks YUM! I like stuffed brinjal esp with home-grown brinjals. Added your blog site to my blog roll. :)

  4. Such an attractive looking vegetable. I'm fascinated by the idea of the aubergine/tomato plant - that would certainly help ease the space in my greenhouse!

  5. I love eggplant but growing them around here is hit and miss. I bought a row cover this year and I'll see if it helps prolong the growing season a little.

  6. that is a good harvest. i am reminded of the brinjal plants i saw around the garden of the 'amethyst' i n chennai on a recent visit.. such lovely flowers as well.