Aubergines are cultivated and eaten throughout the world but most particularly in Europe, Asia and America. Aubergines, which are also known as ‘egg plants’, belong to the same family as potatoes, tomatoes and peppers.
They originated in South Asia and the first mention of their cultivation is in China in 5 BC. The Moorish invaders introduced the aubergine to Spain and it was first mainly grown in Andalusia. From Spain its cultivation quickly spread into Italy and other Southern and Eastern parts of Europe.
The white, yellowish flesh is softer and more tender than a courgette and it has a distinctive bland yet slightly smoky taste. The flesh is spongy to touch when raw but becomes soft after cooking. Aubergines are a good source of fibre and can be used to prepare a multitude of dishes.
Preparing and Using
Aubergines should feel heavy and firm to the touch, with glossy unblemished skins. When frying aubergines it is a good idea to salt the slices first to draw out some of their moisture, otherwise they absorb enormous quantities of oil during cooking (they still absorb copious amounts anyway).
Aubergine slices can be fried in oil, as they are, or coated in batter or breadcrumbs and served as a starter. For moussaka parmigiana and other dishes where aubergines are layered with other ingredients, fry the slices briefly in olive oil. This gives them a tasty crust, while the insides stay soft.
Aubergines are used extensively in Indian, Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine, such as curries, roulades and aubergine dips. Flavours and ingredients that go with aubergines include olive oil, tomatoes, basil, tzatziki, courgettes, natural yoghurt, onions and garlic.
|Nutrient||Raw||Cooked (fried in oil)|