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Aubergines 101 – The Perfect Brinjal

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What are aubergines? Aubergines are eggplants or brinjals. Still not sure? The aubergine is a vegetable ūüėČ and is part of the nightshade family. The same family that tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers are part of, as well as tobacco in fact. But don‚Äôt let that deter you from this delicious, wholesome vegetable.¬†

When the Europeans took their French-named aubergine to the Americas, it was renamed an eggplant in English as it resembled, you guessed it, an egg. But what about brinjals, I hear you ask. The word brinjal is borrowed from the Portuguese beringela. The terms brinjal and aubergine are common in South Africa due to the colonial expansion of both Portugal and England.  

We will use the words interchangeably throughout the text. 

If you’ve never cooked with aubergine, then you’ve been missing out. This vegetable is an excellent substitute for meat in many recipes, including lasagna and moussaka. It’s also incredibly versatile: whether you want to bake it, fry it, or grill it, there are plenty of ways that you can make this fantastic vegetable your star ingredient. 

Want to learn more about good ol‚Äô ‚Äėaubs‚Äô (as our team refers to them as)? This is everything that you need to know about brinjals, from when eggplants are in season, to how to pick the right aubergine in store, and what you can do with them!

There are many varieties of aubergines, but here are just a few common varieites that you can find in a Food Lover’s Market store in South Africa: 

globe-aubergines

Globe (or Black Beauty):

the most common variety found in South Africa. A large purple, oval fruit. Their big, meaty texture makes them particularly well suited for slicing and grilling, and their size makes them great for roasting whole.

exotic-aubergines

Exotic, Striped or Graffiti eggplants:

They are simply beautiful, making them hard to resist in our market. The beautiful white and purple markings do not stay once cooked. These brinjals are more delicate and sweeter in flavour and have less bitter tendencies than their more purple cousins. They usually have fewer seeds as well.  

baby-globe-aubergines

Baby Globe:

Yes, this is just a baby version of the globe. 

You may also find Indian or Japanese eggplants in our stores, take a squiz in our exotic vegetable section at selected store: 

Picking the perfect aubergine:

How to choose the freshest brinjal?

The vegetable should be firm to the touch, this is when it is the freshest. Pick the brinjals that are smooth with blemish-free skin. The slightly smaller/medium-sized ones can have a sweeter flavour and fewer seeds, with more delicate skin. 

The perfect aubergine is neither hard nor rubbery nor too soft and mushy. The ideal texture should be resilient, but not too much so‚ÄĒit should yield to your knife‚Äôs sharp edge with a little resistance but no squeaking or squishing sounds!¬†

How do you prepare aubergines? 

How to cut aubergines?

How do you prepare aubergines? 

To peel or not to peel? This is up to you. The bigger eggplants have a thicker skin, which can take longer to cook, or be more bitter.  

By George, let’s degorge!  

Degorging is the process of drawing out a vegetable’s moisture before cooking. It is a method often used to remove bitterness. We advise degorging the brinjals before cooking them. 

How to degorge an aubergine?¬†Cut your brinjal into skinned slices or cubes, sprinkle salt directly onto the vegetable, and soak in heavily salted water, then allow it to ‚Äúsweat‚ÄĚ for at least 30 minutes. The aubergine will give off a brownish liquid. Make sure to rinse your eggplant thoroughly before cooking!¬†¬†

Aubergines are extremely versatile and can be used in many ways.  

Cut off the stalk (unless you are roasting it whole or halved.)  

  • Halve them, score them, baste them, and then roast, grill or braai them.¬†
  • Roast them whole (and make this aubergine dip)¬†
  • Slice them lengthwise, great for moussaka or lasagna.¬†
  • Slice them into¬†rings ‚Äď these make lekker chips. (Roast, air-fried or deep-fried)¬†
  • Dice them into chunks for roast, stir-fry, or curry.¬†
  • Cut into wedges¬†to roast, grill or braai.¬†

How do you cook aubergines? 

We advise¬†degorging¬†the brinjals before cooking them.¬†Alternatively, scoop out its flesh and then use that flesh for recipes like ratatouille. Another option is to char your eggplant over an open flame until it turns black on all sides‚ÄĒthis should remove some of its bitterness as well. Yum yum! And if you are looking for a quick and easy SCRUMPTIOUS meal, try out our¬†one-pan-baked goat‚Äôs cheese with aubergines.¬†

Explore our tried, tested, AND delicious brinjal, aubergine and eggplant recipes:

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