is a member of the nightshade family, it's
related to the potato and tomato. Though
commonly thought of as a vegetable, eggplant
is actually a fruit, specifically a berry.
many varieties of this delicious food,
ranging in color from rich purple to white,
in length from 2 to 12 inches and in shape
from oblong to round. In the United States,
the most common eggplant is the large,
cylindrical- or pear-shape variety with a
smooth, glossy, dark purple skin. Choose a
firm, smooth-skinned eggplant heavy for its
size; avoid those with soft or brown spots.
Eggplants become bitter with age and are
very perishable. They should be stored in a
cool, dry place and used within a day or two
of purchase. If longer storage is necessary,
place the eggplant in the refrigerator
vegetable drawer. Eggplant can be prepared
in a variety of ways including baking,
broiling and frying. It does, however, have
sponge like capacity to soak up oil so it
should be well coated with a batter or crumb
mixture to inhibit fat absorption.
aubergine, melongene, brinjal or guinea
squash (Solanum melongena) is a plant of the
family Solanaceae (also known as the
nightshades) and genus Solanum. It bears a
fruit of the same name, commonly used in
cooking. As a nightshade, it is closely
related to the tomato and potato. It is
native to India.
It is a delicate perennial often cultivated
as an annual. It grows 40 to 150 cm (16 to
57 in) tall, with large coarsely lobed
leaves that are 10 to 20 cm (4–8 in) long
and 5 to 10 cm (2–4 in) broad. Semiwild
types can grow much larger, to 225 cm (7 ft)
with large leaves over 30 cm (12 in) long
and 15 cm (6 in) broad. The stem is often
spiny. The flowers are white to purple, with
a five-lobed corolla and yellow stamens. The
fruit is fleshy, has a meaty texture, and is
less than 3 cm (1.2 in) in diameter on wild
plants, but much larger in cultivated forms.
The fruit is botanically classified as a
berry, and contains numerous small, soft
seeds, which are edible, but have a bitter
taste because they contain nicotinoid
alkaloids; this is unsurprising as it is a
close relative of tobacco.
The plant is native to the Indian
subcontinent. It has been cultivated in
southern and eastern Asia since prehistory,
but appears to have become known to the
Western world no earlier than ca. 1500. The
first known written record of the plant is
found in Qí mín yào shù, an ancient Chinese
agricultural treatise completed in 544. The
numerous Arabic and North African names for
it, along with the lack of the ancient Greek
and Roman names, indicate it was introduced
throughout the Mediterranean area by the
Arabs in the early Middle Ages. The
scientific name Solanum melongena is derived
from a 16th century Arabic term for one
aubergine is from the French, a diminutive
of auberge, variant of alberge ‘a kind of
peach’ or from the Spanish alberchigo,
alverchiga, ‘an apricocke’ (Minsheu 1623).
It may be also be derived from Catalan
albergínia, from Arabic al-baðinjān from
Persian bâdenjân, from Sanskrit vātiga-gama).
is also the name of the purple color resembling that of
the fruit and is a commonly known color scheme applied
to articles as diverse as cloth or bathroom suites.
The name eggplant, rather than aubergine, is used in the
United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, and
refers to the fruits of some 18th century European
cultivars which were yellow or white and resembled goose
or hen's eggs.
In Indian, South African, Malaysian and Singaporean
English, the fruit brinjal, being derived directly from
the Portuguese beringela. A less common British English
word is melongene, which is also from French (derived)
from Italian "melanzana" from Greek "μελιτζάνα". In the
Caribbean Trinidad, it also goes by "meloongen" from
Because of the plant's relationship with the Solanaceae
(nightshade) family, the fruit was at one time believed
to be extremely poisonous.
Different varieties of the plant produce fruit of
different size, shape and color, though typically
purple. There are even orange varieties.
The most widely cultivated varieties (cultivars) in
Europe and North America today are elongated ovoid,
12–25 cm long (4½ to 9 in) and 6–9 cm broad (2 to 4 in)
in a dark purple skin.
A much wider range of shapes, sizes and colors is grown
in India and elsewhere in Asia. Larger varieties
weighing up to a kilogram (2.2 pounds) grow in the
region between the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, while
smaller varieties are found elsewhere. Colors vary from
white to yellow or green as well as reddish-purple and
dark purple. Some cultivars have a color gradient, from
white at the stem to bright pink to deep purple or even
black. Green or purple cultivars in white striping also
exist. Chinese varieties are commonly shaped like a
narrower, slightly pendulous cucumber, and were
sometimes called Japanese eggplants in North America.
Oval or elongated oval-shaped and black-skinned
cultivars include Harris Special Hibush, Burpee Hybrid,
Black Magic, Classic, Dusky, and Black Beauty. Slim
cultivars in purple-black skin include Little Fingers,
Ichiban, Pingtung Long, and Tycoon; in green skin
Louisiana Long Green and Thai (Long) Green; in white
skin Dourga. Traditional, white-skinned, egg-shaped
cultivars include Casper and Easter Egg. Bicolored
cultivars with color gradient include Rosa Bianca,
Violetta di Firenze, Bianca Smufata di Rosa (heirloom),
and Prosperosa (heirloom). Bicolored cultivars with
striping include Listada de Gandia and Udumalapet. In
some parts of India, miniature varieties (most commonly
called vengan) are popular. A particular variety of
green brinjal known as Matti Gulla is grown in Matti, a
village of the Udupi district in Karnataka state.
The raw fruit can have a somewhat bitter taste, but
becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex
flavor. Traditionally, recipes would advise the salting,
rinsing and draining of the sliced fruit (known as "degorging")
to soften it and to reduce the amount of fat absorbed
during cooking, but mainly to remove the bitterness of
the earlier cultivars. Some modern varieties - including
those large, purple varieties commonly imported into
western Europe - do not need this treatment. The fruit
is capable of absorbing large amounts of cooking fats
and sauces, allowing for very rich dishes, but the
salting process will reduce the amount of oil absorbed.
The fruit flesh is smooth; as in the related tomato, the
numerous seeds are soft and edible along with the rest
of the fruit. The thin skin is also edible, so peeling
is not required.
Melanzane alla Parmigiana, or Eggplant Parmesan
The plant is used in cuisines from Japan to Spain. It is
often stewed, as in the French ratatouille, the Italian
parmigiana di melanzane, the Turkish karnıyarık or
musakka, and Middle-Eastern and South Asian dishes.
Eggplants can also be battered before deep-frying and
served with a sauce made of tahini and tamarind. In
Iranian cuisine, it can be blended with whey as kashk e-bademjan,
tomatoes as mirza ghasemi or made into stew as
khoresh-e-bademjan. 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. However, arguably
the most famous Turkish eggplant dish duo is İmam
bayıldı (vegetarian) and Karnıyarık (with minced meat).
It may also be roasted in its skin until charred, so the
pulp can be removed and blended with other ingredients,
such as lemon, tahini, and garlic, as in the Middle
Eastern dish baba ghanoush and the similar Greek dish
melitzanosalata. Grilled, mashed and mixed with onions,
tomatoes and spices make the Indian dish baingan ka
Bhartha or gojju, similar to salată de vinete in
Romania, while a mix of roasted eggplant, roasted red
peppers, chopped onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots,
celery and spices is called zacuscă in Romania or ajvar
in Serbia and the Balkans. A simpler version of the
dish, Begun-Pora (eggplant-charred or burnt), is popular
in the east Indian state of Bengal and Bangladesh where
the charred pulp is mixed with raw chopped onions, green
chillies, salt and mustard oil. A Catalan dish called
Escalivada calls for strips of roasted aubergine, sweet
pepper, onion and tomato.
The fruit can also be stuffed with meat, rice, or other
fillings and then baked. In the Caucasus, for example,
it is fried and stuffed with walnut paste to make
nigvziani badrijani. It can also be found in Chinese
cuisine, braised (紅燒茄子), stewed (魚香茄子), steamed (凉拌茄子),
or stuffed (釀茄子).
As a native plant, it is widely used in Indian cuisine,
for example in sambhar, dalma (a dal preparation with
vegetables, native to Orissa), chutney, curry, and
achaar. Owing to its versatile nature and wide use in
both everyday and festive Indian food, it is often
described (under the name brinjal) as the "King of
Vegetables". In one dish, brinjal is stuffed with ground
coconut, peanuts, and masala, and then cooked in oil.
Eggplants being sorted just after harvest
In tropical and subtropical climates, eggplant can be
sown directly into the garden. Eggplant grown in
temperate climates fares better when transplanted into
the garden after all danger of frost is passed. Seeds
are typically started eight to ten weeks prior to the
anticipated frost-free date.
Many pests and diseases which afflict other solanaceous
plants, such as tomato, pepper (capsicum), and potato,
are also troublesome to eggplants. For this reason, it
should not be planted in areas previously occupied by
its close relatives. Four years should separate
successive crops of eggplants. Common North American
pests include the potato beetles, flea beetles, aphids,
and spider mites. (Adults can be removed by hand, though
flea beetles can be especially difficult to control.)
Good sanitation and crop rotation practices are
extremely important for controlling fungal disease, the
most serious of which is Verticillium.
Spacing should be 45 cm (18 in.) to 60 cm (24 in.)
between plants, depending on cultivar, and 60 cm to 90
cm (24 to 36 in.) between rows, depending on the type of
cultivation equipment being used. Mulching will help
conserve moisture and prevent weeds and fungal diseases.
The flowers are relatively unattractive to bees and the
first blossoms often do not set fruit. Hand pollination
will improve the set of the first blossoms. Fruits are
typically cut from the vine just above the calyx owing
to the somewhat woody stems. Flowers are complete,
containing both female and male structures, and may be
self pollinated or cross pollinated.
A purple eggplant which
has been sliced in half, showing the inside, the flesh
surrounding the seeds is already beginning to oxidize
and will turn brown just minutes after slicing.
Production of eggplant is highly concentrated, with 85
percent of output coming from five countries. China is
the top producer (56% of world output) and India is
second (26%); Egypt, Turkey and Indonesia round out the
top producing nations. More than 4 million acres
(2,043,788 hectares) are devoted to the cultivation of
eggplant in the world. In the United States, Georgia is
the largest producing state.
Studies of the
Institute of Biology of São Paulo State University,
Brazil, have shown eggplant is effective in the
treatment of high blood cholesterol. Another study from
Heart Institute of the University of São Paulo found no
effects at all and does not recommend eggplant as a
replacement to statins.
It helps to block the formation of free radicals and is
also a source of folic acid and potassium.
Eggplant is richer in nicotine than any other edible
plant, with a concentration of 100 ng/g (or 0.01
mg/100g). However, the amount of nicotine from eggplant
or any other food is negligible compared to passive
smoking. On average, 20 lbs (9 kg) of eggplant contains
about the same amount of nicotine as a cigarette.