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Description :

The eggplant, aubergine, melongene or brinjal is a plant of the family Solanaceae and genus Solanum. It bears a fruit of the same name, commonly used as a vegetable in cooking. As a nightshade, it is closely related to the tomato and potato and is native to Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

It is a delicate perennial often cultivated as an annual. It grows 40 to 150 cm tall, with large coarsely lobed leaves that are 10 to 20 cm long and 5 to 10 cm broad. (Semi-) wild types can grow much larger, to 225 cm with large leaves over 30 cm long and 15 cm broad. The stem is often spiny. The flowers are white to purple, with a five-lobed corolla and yellow stamens. The fruit is fleshy, less than 3 cm 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 are bitter because they contain nicotinoid alkaloids, unsurprising as it is a close relative of tobacco.

The raw fruit can have a somewhat bitter taste, but becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavor. Salting and then rinsing the sliced fruit can soften and remove much of the bitterness though this is often unnecessary. Some modern varieties do not need this treatment, as they are far less bitter. 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.