Brinjals – The King of Vegetables

The following article discusses the history behind the brinjal, which is native to India, and the different culinary uses of it.

Brinjals – the king of vegetables

Also known as eggplant, aubergine and melogene, the brinjal, often called the 'King of Vegetables', the brinjal originated in India, as early as prehistoric times. The Western world was introduced to the brinjal later on, in around 1500. Being a member of the 'Nightshade' or 'Solanaceae' family, brinjals are closely related to the tomato and potato. Typically, the brinjal we all know today is classified as a berry, with a mass of bitter seeds. Nevertheless, this bitterness can be masked while cooking with different spices, thereby making it a widely used vegetable.

The brinjal plant is mostly annual. Its leaves are large, punctuated with rough lobes and a spiny stem. Brinjal flowers are whitish purple and have five petals. These blossoms are not very attractive to bees and a first blossom rarely produces any fruit (or in this case, the brinjal vegetable).

History behind the name

The term 'eggplant' is used by the Americans, Canadians and Australians, because of the close resemblance between the yellowish white brinjals they get and the eggs of geese and hens. 'Aubergine', used in British English was obtained from the Persian 'badenjan' and Sanskrit 'vatiga-gama'. India, South Africa, Malaysia and Singapore call it the brinjal – which was derived from the Portuguese 'beringela'. 'Melongene', a rarer term was obtained from a French word further influenced by the Italian 'melanzana'.

Brinjal varieties

The most common brinjal in the world is the larger, elongated variety, which is usually purple to deep purple in colour. However, white, yellow, green ('Matti Gulla' of Karnataka), orange and even striped brinjals have been grown, mostly throughout Asia. Chinese brinjals resemble cucumbers in their narrow shape. The vegetable also ranges in size (weight) from the larger ones weighing in at a kilo, to the smaller types ('Baingan'). In Thai cuisine, smaller, rounder brinjals are preferred.

Brinjals in cuisine

To reduce the bitterness prevalent in brinjals, it is customary to add salt, wash and then drain the vegetable before cooking. Apart from enhancing the complex flavours, the amount of fat soaked up in the oil while cooking can also be reduced by this procedure. The thin purple skin and seeds are also edible.

Brinjals are found in cuisines practically all over the world. They are found in curries, chutneys, sauces, sambhars, dals and a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes (in the latter, they can be stuffed with meat and then baked). They can be deep fried in batter, and then served with a variety of spicy, tangy sauces ('bhajjiyas'). They can be stewed as in the case of the French 'Ratatouille' and Turkish 'Musakka'. Brinjals can be grilled, mashed up and then mixed with onions, tomatoes and spices ('Baingan ka Bhartha') or stuffed. For instance, in Caucasus, brinjals are stuffed with walnut paste to prepare a dish called 'Nigvziani Badrijani'.

Allergies to brinjals

People who are allergic to brinjals will start to itch after both handling and consuming the vegetable. Those people who are prone to hay fever are more susceptible to developing brinjal allergy. This is because of the existence of histamines. Cooking the vegetable may reduce the symptoms in some people, but it is better not to push your luck, because not all the allergy-causing elements may be destroyed.


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Author: Ramachandran Pattabiraman11 Mar 2011 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 1

Take a big size brinjals in two numbers. Heat them in fire,better coal fire. peel the skin. Beat the flesh of brinjals into a bowl. Add salt to the need. By keeping a pan in stove just fry slightly chopped green chillis with little oil. Add this with the paste. Taste it with or without curd. The taste makes you to accept full heartedly Chantella's "Brinjal-the king of vegetables"

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