Eggplants belong to the nightshade family of vegetables, which also includes tomatoes, bell peppers and potatoes. They come in different varieties. It is grown similarly as a tomato. Eggplants has a spongy texture and pleasant bitter taste. The eggplant, also known as aubergine, garden egg, guinea squash, melongene, and brinjal, usually has an egg-like shape and a vibrant purple color. They’re versatile, a great substitute for meat, and can absorb large amounts of sauces, fats, and flavors.
There are many health benefits of eating eggplant. Some of them are
1) Heart health
Eggplants contains lots of nutrients like fiber, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and phytonutrient which lowers the blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart diseases.
2) Blood cholesterol
Eggplants lower high levels of cholesterol and decrease LDL levels too. It also acts as an antimicrobial, antiviral, and anticarcinogenic agent.
Eggplants have anti-cancer effects as it contains polyphenols. It also prevents tumor growth rates, reduce inflammation, protects the cells from free radicals and blocking the enzymes that help cancer cells to spread.
4) Cognitive function
Eggplant skin contains anthocyanin which is a powerful antioxidant that protects brain cell membranes from free radical damage.it also prevents age-related disorders, improves memory, prevent neuroinflammation and facilitate blood flow to the brain. Eggplants also assists in the transport of nutrients into the cell and moving waste out.
5) Weight management and satiety
Eggplants contain dietary fibers which reduce appetite and increases satiety and make feel person fuller for longer. It has low calories which helps in reducing the weight of the body.
6) Eggplant as Brain Food
Eggplant skin contains nasunin which is a powerful antioxidant which protects the cells from free radicals. Thus, promoting brain health.
Eggplant can be consumed at any time of day.The best way to enjoy eggplant is in a dish of Italian Parmigiana: alternate layers of fried aubergines dressed with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. Eggplants also go well with garlic.
Ways to use eggplant
It can be prepared whole, cubed, or sliced, and can be fried, grilled, baked, roasted, or steamed.
- Eggplant pizza crust: Replace pizza crust with sliced eggplant and add tomato sauce, cheese, and other toppings for a gluten-free, low-calorie treat.
- Eggplant side dish: Sauté or stir-fry chunks of eggplant in olive oil and serve as a side.
- Burger garnish: Cut the eggplant lengthwise into thick slices and grill them. They can be served on their own or in a burger.
- Oven-baked eggplant fries: Slice the eggplant into strips or wedges and bake them in the oven for healthy eggplant fries.
- Eggplant pasta topping: Cut the eggplant into thick slices, then bread and bake or sauté them and add them to a pasta dish. Top with Parmesan cheese to create eggplant Parmesan.
- Ratatouille: Combine eggplant, onion, garlic, zucchini, peppers, and tomato, sautéd in a little olive oil, to make a ratatouille.
- Veggie lasagne: Use the ratatouille sauce above to replace the meat layer in lasagne.
- Eggplant stew: Combine with tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, and spices for a fragrant and warming dish.
- Baba ganoush: To make a popular Middle Eastern dip, grill the eggplant in halves for 30 to 40 minutes, remove the flesh and blend with yogurt, tahini, lime juice, garlic and spices to taste. Top with roasted pine nuts and serve with pita bread.
- Maklouba: A chicken and aubergine “upside-down” rice dish.
- For homemade baba ganoush, purée roasted eggplant, garlic, tahini, lemon juice and olive oil.
- Use it as a dip for vegetables or as a sandwich filling.
- Mix cubed baked eggplant with grilled peppers, lentils, onions and garlic and top with balsamic vinaigrette.
- Stuff miniature Japanese eggplants with a mixture of feta cheese, pine nuts and roasted peppers.
- Add eggplant to your next Indian curry stir-fry.
Uses of eggplant
● See Freckles Fade: Applying eggplant to your skin, you will see your freckles fade. Follow the below remedy to see the results.
Wash your eggplant and then cut it up into pieces. Rub the pieces directly, and gently, in circular movements, on the face where freckles are present for 10 to 15 minutes.
● Say Goodbye to Warts: Applying fresh eggplants to warts is an old home remedy that takes two ingredients: a thin piece of fresh eggplant big enough to cover the size of the wart and a bandage. Each night before you go to bed, take the piece of eggplant, cover the wart, and secure the eggplant covering with a bandage. Eventually, you may see that the wart peels off quite easily. If you apply the piece of eggplant over the wart every night, taking care to use a fresh piece of eggplant each time. The result can be seen in two weeks.
● Regulate and Pamper Skin: Eggplant masks are regimens that beauty practitioners say are helpful especially to women with oily skin conditions. Here is what you do: Blend a large slice of eggplant (roughly, one-quarter of a small-sized eggplant) with its skin still on plus one cup of plain, unflavored yogurt in a blender. Spread it over your face. After 20 minutes, rinse with warm water. Eggplant is also used to lighten age-spots, whether your skin is oily, average, or dry. Apply mashed eggplant pulp on your face and rinse with warm, not hot, water. Do this daily until you see some results.
● Gently Treat Your Hair: Enzymes in the eggplant may help to stimulate hair follicles to more vibrant health. Eggplant may also help improve hair that has greasy buildup. Apply a chunk of fresh eggplant to your scalp and rub gently.
How to buy and store eggplant
Before buying make sure the eggplant skin skin should be shiny and smooth, not wrinkled or mottled. Stems should be green. Avoid those with brown or soft spots. Eggplants should be stored in a cool days. They can be stored for a few days. Avoid storing in the refrigerator, as this will damage the eggplant’s texture.
Season in which eggplant is available
Though available year-round, eggplant peaks in the summer.
How to make Baingan Bharta
For roasting the eggplant
1 medium eggplant, around 550 grams
3 large garlic cloves
For the baingan bharta
1.5 tablespoon oil, I used vegetable oil
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 inch ginger , chopped
1 green chili, or to taste, chopped
1 medium red onion, 120 grams, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, 280 grams, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder, or to taste
1 teaspoon coriander powder
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Rinse the eggplant and pat dry. Brush it with little oil all over. Then make few slits all over the eggplant with a knife. In 3 of those slits, insert a large clove of garlic. Put the eggplant directly on heat and roast, turning often for around 10-12 minutes until completely roasted.
Once roasted (to check if its done, insert a knife inside the eggplant, it should go easily) use a pair of tongs to remove the eggplant from heat and wrap in an aluminium foil to cool.
Once cooled, remove the skin. Meanwhile also chop the roasted garlic.
Transfer the roasted eggplant to a bowl and mash using a fork or potato masher. Set it aside.
Heat oil in a pan on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add chopped garlic (different from the ones used while roasting the eggplant), ginger and green chili. Saute until they start changing color, around 2 minutes.
Then add in the chopped onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until softened. Don’t brown them.
Add the chopped tomatoes and mix. Cook the tomatoes for around 5 minutes until very soft and you notice oil oozing out of the masala.
Add the mashed roasted eggplant into the pan along with the chopped roasted garlic and mix well.
Add the red chili powder and mix. Also add the coriander powder and salt and mix to combine. Cook the bharta for another 5 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring often.
Stir in the chopped cilantro and mix. Remove pan from heat.
Serve baingan bharta hot with fresh rotis!
How to make Brinjal Pulippu Kootu
- 1/2 cup tuvar dal or split pigeon peas
- 9 small round eggplants, cut into a 1/2-inch dice
- 2 tbsp freshly grated coconut, you can use frozen, but thaw before use
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- A generous pinch of asafetida or hing
- 2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/4 cup chopped coriander leaves
- 1 tbsp tamarind extract. Or a 1-inch ball of tamarind pods, soaked in 1/2 cup of water for 30 minutes. Extract the tamarind pulp by crushing with fingers and discard the dry solids
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 2 sprigs curry leaves
- 1/2 cup peanuts, covered with water and microwaved for five minutes. Or you can bring them to a boil on the stovetop, lower heat, and let them cook 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- For ground masala paste:
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp udad dal or black gram dal
- 1 tbsp chana dal or bengal gram dal
- 2 tsp black peppercorns
- 2 dry red chillies
- 1/4 cup freshly grated coconut. You can use frozen but thaw first.
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- Mix the lentils and turmeric, add water and cook until the lentils are really soft and mashable. Pressure-cooking works best here — and the fastest– but you can do this on the stovetop. Use enough water to cover the lentils by an inch, bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook the lentils until they are soft and mushy. You will need to check frequently to ensure the water hasn’t dried out.
- Make the ground masala. Heat 1 tsp of oil and add the masala ingredients. On medium heat, saute the ingredients, stirring frequently, until the coconut turns a few shades darker. Be watchful because coconut burns easily.
- Remove the masala ingredients to a blender, add enough water to make a paste, and blend to a smooth paste. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan, place the chopped eggplant, add the tamarind, some salt, and enough water to almost cover the vegetables. Bring the mixture to a boil, turn heat to low, cover and cook until the brinjals are thoroughly cooked. Don’t take shortcuts here because half-cooked brinjal is worse than no brinjal at all.
- Add the cooked lentils, peanuts, and ground masala paste. Stir well, add water if the mixture is too thick, bring to a boil, lower heat, and cook at a gentle simmer for about 10 minutes.
- In a small saucepan, add the remaining 1 tsp of oil and then add mustard seeds. When the mustard sputters, add the coconut and curry leaves.
- Saute the coconut and curry leaves until the coconut turns lightly golden.
- Add to the lentils and mix thoroughly. Stir in the coriander leaves.
- Serve hot with some boiled rice and potato curry.
Consuming too much eggplant can cause arthritis, inflammation can form kidney stones. Eggplants contain oxalates, nausin and are a part of nightshade family, people with kidney stones and those who have low levels of iron should not consume eggplants.
Fun facts about eggplant
- Eggplant comes in a range of colors, shapes, and sizes.
- The anthocyanins in eggplant may protect heart health
- Another chemical in eggplant, nasunin, may help improve blood flow to the brain
- Cooking methods include steaming, roasting, boiling, baking, or frying, but steaming appears to preserve the antioxidant levels most effectively.
- Scientists are looking for ways to maximize the antioxidants in eggplant while reducing the bitter flavor they bring.
- Eggplants aren’t REALLY vegetables, they’re berries. Which isn’t that strange, considering other fruits are commonly mistaken for vegetables – like tomatoes.
- Eggplants and tomatoes are actually related. They both belong to the nightshade family with the famous literary poison – deadly nightshade. But don’t worry, eggplant isn’t toxic (at least not in normal amounts).
- A study published in 1993 in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that eggplant has by far the highest level of nicotine of any vegetable. But it’s such a small amount that there’s really no need for concern. You would have to eat between 20 and 40 pounds of eggplant to consume the amount of nicotine you’d get smoking one cigarette.
- But eggplant had a bad rap before it’s comparison with cigarettes. Ancient Persian philosophers ascribed all kinds of ailments to them – from pimples to epilepsy.
- People in the U.K. called them aubergines. The word “aubergine” goes all the way back to the ancient Indian language Sanskrit. The eggplant is believed to have originated in India, where it is considered to be the King of Vegetables.
- The word “eggplant” that we use in North America comes from British-colonized India, where at the time, a small, white, egg-like variety of the vegetable was all the rage.
- In Renaissance Italy, it was called a mala insana or “crazy apple”.
- Japan even has a proverb about eggplant:
“The happiest omen for a New Year is first Mount Fuji, then the falcon, and lastly eggplant.”
- Eggplants are native to India and are known as ‘aubergines’ in Europe and ‘eggplants’ in America, and are also called ‘brinjal’, ‘melongene’ and ‘guinea squash’.
- An eggplant’s scientific name is solanum melongena and the belong to the family Solanaceae, which is the family of nightshades, and they are related to tomatoes and potatoes.
- Eggplants are typically dark purple vegetables that grow 12 to 25 cm (4.5 to 9 inches) in length and have a spongy light coloured flesh, although they come in all different shapes, sizes and colours including an almost black colour, green, orange, white, and yellow.
- Eggplant plants are a perennial tropical plant that grow to 40 to 150 cm (16 to 57 inches) in height and have a white to purple coloured flower.
- Eggplants were named ‘eggplants’ in the 1700s in Europe, because some eggplants were white in colour and looked like bird eggs.
- Eggplants behave like a sponge during the cooking process, and can be baked, fried, stewed, grilled, steamed and stuffed, whilst also featuring in two of the most famous eggplant dishes, moussaka and ratatouille.
- Eggplants become more bitter with age, although are usually cooked to avoid or reduce the often bitter taste they have, and are sometimes cut, salted and rinsed before cooking to remove some of the bitterness and so that they absorb less oil or other liquid.
- China produced 58% of the total world production of nearly 42 million tonnes (41 million tons) of eggplants in 2010, and cultivated eggplants use more than 4 million acres (1.6 million hectares) of land worldwide.
- Eggplants have the highest nicotine content than all edible plants, although you would need to eat 9kg (20 pounds) of eggplant to match the quantity of nicotine in one cigarette.
- Some people are allergic to eggplants, which can cause reactions of itchiness, headaches and stomach irritation.
- The eggplant was domesticated from the nightshade and the bitter apple species (Sodom’s Apple)
- The first known records of the cultivation and use of Egg plants was in Egypt.
- Aubergines come in a variety of colours; white, yellow, green, red and purple. The most common however are the ones which are purple in colour.
- Eggplants absorb a lot of fat and oil when being cooked hence are excellent for rich curries. If you don’t want this to happen, slice the eggplants and sprinkle some salt on them.
- Due to its versatility and its ability to be used in many dishes and curries, the Brinjal is often referred to as the “kind of all vegetables” in India.