When I was writing recipes for my cook book I was always confused what name should I give, In Sindhi we call it Vaagan, in Hindi we call it beyngan, but to translate it into English was quite challenging, should I write brinjal, eggplant or aubergine? Or maybe garden egg? Or madapple? This fleshy edible fruit/vegetable is known by different names and as many names that it has, that much more versatile it is and it has found its identity in every country around the world.
During my growing up years I have seen mom cook brinjals in variety of ways. Mom was very creative in her cooking. Even if she cooked the same vegetable every day, it was always cooked differently, so if we had deep fried brinjals with dry masalas sprinkle over it one day then it baigan ka barta the next day, sometimes it was used in the mixed bhajji or in Sindhi curry and sometimes cooked with raddish and tomatoes.
I especially liked the brinjal dip that we have with salads. She would use hung curd for this purpose, roast the brinjal over fire, peel and mash it with hung curd, add chilies, garlic, coriander leaves, salt and mix it in the blender.
This is one vegetable that I never made a fuss because I liked its sweetest pulpy taste.
It was when I had gone through a different cooks book that I was surprised to see it being relished all over the world.
I especially like the way Chinese use it in the most innovative way. The brinjals are peeled, sliced and deep fried and then stir fried with other vegetables to produce a beautiful vegetarian dish. The pulp retains its firmness because it is deep fried and Chinese sauces are easily absorbed by this vegetable.
This vegetable is very nutritious and it has healing powers.
The peel or skin (deep blue/purple varieties) of aubergine has significant amounts of phenolic flavonoid phyto-chemicals called anthocyanins. Scientific studies have shown that these anti-oxidants have potential health effects against cancer, aging, inflammation, and neurological diseases.(source)
However, it is not recommended for pregnant women......
I am always confused when I see several variety of eggplant in the market. There is green long one, then a purple round one, there is one with light purple stripes, then tiny round ones. Oh! There are so many different types that you need to have a recipe in your head before buying them, Its funny how our brain works, as you eyes scan the vegetables, the recipes flips in our mind with each vegetable, helping us decide what we would like to buy and what recipe you are going to use.
But while buying I always make sure that they are shiny, plump, firm, unwrinkled and heavy for its size. They should not have any scars or bruises. If I press a bit, it sinks in but it should spring back quickly to its shape. Its better to cut it with stainless steel knife because carbon steel causes it to turn black.
I normally cut it and salt it for some time, wash and pat dry before cooking.
This week I made brinjal pickle. This is a very easy recipe and very tasty, It can keep for a week in the fridge and can be enjoyed with all meals. I have with khichri, puri, bakri roti or even just for time-pass.
I picked up one kilo of small round dark purple brinjals from market. Slit them lengthwise and boiled them in salty water till they were soft. Discarded the water. (don't want that bitter, salty water with floating nutrients)
Grind 50 grams of garlic, 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tbsp crushed mustard seeds, 1 tsp red chilie powder, 1 tsp salt, 50 grams dried red chilies into a smooth paste
In a sterilized jar, transfer the boiled brinjals, add the paste, add four glasses of water and 1 tbsp of oil. (you are drooling, right? I am too)
Cover it air-tight and keep it for two days, stirring occasionally, whenever you pass by the jar. Its like saying “hello, you okay?” As you shake its tummy..er..I mean jar….
After two-three days you will see the color of the pickle change and oil begins to float. Take a spoonful to taste.
If it is spicy, sour and tasty, it’s ready to eat. To boost your ego, share it with friends………