The Aubergine is also known as the Eggplant. They are a large, egg - shaped berry, varying in colour from dark purple to red, yellowish, or white. Sometimes it is striped and has a glossy surface.
The Latin name of the Aubergine, "Solanum Melongena" indicates, the Aubergine is the only member of the Deadly Nightshade family to originate in the Eastern Hemisphere and is closely related to the Tomato, Potato and the Pepper. In fact, like its cousin, the Tomato, the Aubergine's popularity was stifled in Europe and North America until relatively recent years due to its association to Nightshade. Where as the Tomato was believed to be poisonous, the Aubergine was believed by superstitious Europeans to induce insanity and was unaffectionately known as the "Mad Apple" until only a few centuries ago.
Aubergines come in a wide array of shapes, sizes and colours, which makes them an outstanding edible landscape plant. The varieties range from dark purple to pale mauve, and from yellow to white. The longer purple variety is the most commonly eaten.
Aubergines have a very neutral taste, which allows them to be combined with many other ingredients. They are especially good when prepared with garlic and herbs such as marjoram and basil .
A fresh aubergine is firm and has a smooth, very glossy, dark purple skin and white, spongy flesh. A ripe aubergine has a matte gloss and yields slightly under finger pressure. Its weight must be in proportion to its size: excessively light aubergines can be limp and dehydrated.
Aubergines keep best at a temperature of 15° C. If the temperature is too low, the stem and leaves quickly turn brown and brown spots appear on the skin. Aubergines can be kept for three to seven days, depending on how ripe they are at purchase.
Eggplants represent a source of folic acid, potassium and dietary fibre. Folic acid is a vitamin B which helps to avoid complications during pregnancy. The anthozyane which are the red and blue colourpigments of the eggplant lower bloodcholersterol.
Aubergine probably has more names in varieties of the English language than any other. That’s because it has been cultivated for a very long time and it has been widely transmitted across the world from its heartland in eastern and southern Asia. Aubergines are native to the Southeast Asian region of India and modern day Pakistan and were first domesticated there over 4000 years ago. In its home region, the Aubergine is used in many local dishes and carries a wide range of names. In fact, the Aubergine's scientific name "Melongena" is an ancient name for Aubergine in Sanskrit. Within its home region, the purple fruited Aubergine was the first to be domesticated. About 500 B.C. Aubergine spread into neighbouring China and became a culinary favourite to generations of Chinese emperors. The Chinese saw the Aubergine differently than the Indians did and soon developed their own unique varieties. In particular, they preferred smaller fruited Aubergine, as well as differing shapes and colours. From India and Pakistan, the Aubergine soon spread West into the Middle East and the far west as Egypt and northward into Turkey. The Turks alone are believed to have over 1000 native recipes calling for the use of Aubergine in many different ways. The Moors introduced the Aubergine to Spain were it received its Catalonian name “Alberginia” The vegetable soon spread throughout Europe. The 16th century Spaniards had great respect for the Aubergine and believed its fruit to be a powerful aphrodisiac, an "Apple of Love". The Italians too, held the Aubergine in very regard and called them "Melanzana". The English were responsible for coining the name "Eggplant" in regards to a variety with egg shaped, white fruit that they became familiar with, yet strangely, they refer to them today by the French name of Aubergine, which is a corruption of the Catalonian name "Alberginia"
Serving size: 100 grams
What about aubergine o'lanterns for Halloween?
With such a long culinary evolution eggplant uses are many and include, grilling, frying, baking or stewing and dips. The practice of "breading" keeps the spongy fruit from absorbing too much oil when fried.