As I was looking for a food item starting with E, the bright purple shining eggplant came to my mind. And I was wondering why it has been given so many names. We in India, mostly call it brinjal.

Eggplant is an Indian native and has been cultivated in eastern and southern Asia since prehistoric times. The first written record of the plant is found in an ancient Chinese agricultural treatise completed in 544. It appears to be known in the western world no earlier than ca. 1500.

Baba ghanoush is a Levantine dish of cooked eggplant mixed with onions, tomatoes, olive oil and various seasonings. It's served here with pita bread. Pic Courtesy - Wikipedia

It is known as an eggplant in the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. While the name Aubergine used in British Englih is derived from French. 

Do you know eggplant has a royal connection? Have you heard the story of Akbar, Birbal & eggplant? Do not worry, I will share it here. 

Akbar was joined by Birbal and some other delegates for lunch. As Akbar saw eggplant being served, he praised it by saying - “What a delicious and nutritious vegetable it is!”

Berenjenas de Almagro: Seasoned and pickled Almagro eggplant from Spain

Pic Courtesy - Wikipedia

Birbal echoed his master’s voice - “Totally agree with you, sir. That is why nature has bestowed it with a green colour crown. King and his delegates were very much impressed with Birbal’s explanation. 

One day, Akbar and Birbal were walking through the royal fields. As they were crossing the crop of eggplant, Akbar said - What a nonsensical vegetable it is. Neither it is good to look at, nor has taste. Immediately, Birbal said - “Totally agree with you, sir. That is why we call it बे - गुण।  Without any quality. 

Eggplant is from the family of tomatoes. Its flesh is smooth and has numerous seeds as in tomatoes. The seeds are edible along with the flesh just like tomatoes. Its skin is also edible and peeling is not required. 

Kyopolou is a popular Bulgarian and Turkish relish made principally from roasted eggplants and garlic.
Pic courtesy Wikipedia

Eggplants are very popular all over the world.  Eggplant or aubergine is used in the cuisine of many countries. It is often stewed, as in the French ratatouille, or deep-fried as in the Italian parmigiana di melanzane, the Turkish karnıyarık, or Turkish and Greek musakka/moussaka, etc. Eggplants can also be battered before deep-frying and served with a sauce made of tahini and tamarind. It can be sliced and deep-fried, then served with plain yogurt, (optionally) topped with a tomato and garlic sauce, such as in the Turkish dish patlıcan kızartması (meaning: fried aubergines) or without yogurt as in patlıcan şakşuka. Perhaps the best-known Turkish eggplant dishes are imam bayıldı (vegetarian) and karnıyarık (with minced meat).

As a native Indian vegetable, it is very popular and used in different Indian cuisines. For example in Sambhar, Dalma ( an Oriya cuisine dish made with dal and vegetables). Who does not love the grilled, mashed, and mixed with rich spices along with onion, tomatoes, garlic, and ginger, the Indian dish “Baigan ka Bharta”. It is very similar to “Salate de vinete in Romania.

Eggplant is low in calories and high in potassium and fiber and can certainly be part of a healthy diet. The trick is not to load it down with tons of oil and fat.

When selecting an eggplant, look for smooth, unblemished, and shining skin. Wrinkled skin on it is a sign that they’re past their prime, just like we humans. :) Bruises indicate soft spots. It should also be somewhat firm to the touch, like a slightly squishy potato. If you can indent the fruit with your finger, it’s probably a bit too soft. Check the stem. It should be green and without any sign of mold. Finally, to avoid lots of seeds and bitterness, opt for small to medium eggplants. If there is any hole on the outer surface, it is an indication of worms. So do not pick that kind.

It is one of the easily available and affordable vegetables. Its purple colour is attractive and always stands out in the vegetable shop. It is greenish when raw.

It is a very good source of potassium and contains high content of water and fiber. It helps in curing phlegm, and congestion and reduces the formation of gas. In case, you have difficulty in sleeping, eat baked brinjal with some honey. It is said to induce sleep. 

Eggplant is a good source of calcium, potassium, dietary fiber, protein, sodium, sugar, saturated fat, etc. 

So overall, it is a winner!

So, when are you adding it to your diet?

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