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Aubergin, Patlican, Badinjan… Eggplant August 15, 2008

Posted by Paula Erbay in Uncategorized.

an Eggplant by any of it’s names is still tasty 

While we think of them as a vegetable, they are a fruit – the same as tomatoes, avocados, bananas and even chili peppers. And, they are good for you too. They contain: dietary fiber, potassium, manganese, copper and thiamin (vitamin B1), vitamin B6, folate, magnesium and niacin. They can block the formation of free radicals, and help control cholesterol levels. 

In addition to it’s many names, eggplants have had a sorted past. It’s Sanskrit name (ancient Indian), referred to the belief that it cured flatulence. Others thought them to be poisonous – only good for decoration. Depending on the century, Europeans have thought them to be an aphrodisiac or to cause insanity… kind of the same thing isn’t it?

Eggplants are native to India and China, then spread to the rest of the world. Thomas Jefferson is credited with introducing them in the United States in 1806 (and growing them), though they have only become popular here in the past 50 years or so. Turkey prides itself on the variety of native eggplant (patlıcan) recipes, rumored to be over 1,000 (I’ve not tasted them all….yet). 

When choosing eggplants look for glossy skins with no soft spots or bruises. The cap should be green and fresh looking. Look at the bottoms, some are smooth, others dimpled; the smooth ones have fewer seeds. If you need to, store them in a cool, dry place – but do not refrigerate. They should be used as soon as possible. They are in season from July to October, but with today’s global shipping are available are year long. Farmer’s Markets and Ethnic Grocers have more varieties, and generally better quality, than your local Super Market. 

There are different theories as to why eggplants are soaked, or salted prior to cooking. Often “to drain the bitter juices”. I find they soak up less oil following this process, be sure to rinse, and pat or squeeze dry before continuing with your recipe.




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