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I came across these for the first time in an Asian supermarket in Edinburgh last week. They were small and round: I've seen purple ones that size and shape before.
Are they used any differently from the purple ones? (Or, as they say in Arabic, 'black'). Do they taste different? Is the texture different?
Phil, I haven't eaten absolutely white aubergins, but my dad used to grow some very light coloured, small aubergines a million years ago, in my childhood. I can't remember the taste, but my mum used to cook them whole, with stem intact, just split with a cross, from tip to tail, with a spice mix of choice sprinkled in. I still cook small aubergines like this.
I think that is where the bame egg plant comes from, eggplant.
aubergines come in many shapes, sizes and colours. There are ones that look exactly like eggs, very white. My brother saw a plant with them on in Kew Gardens, and thought someone was playing a practical joke! The off-white ones are called yard eggs by Caribbean people.
There are loads of different shapes and sizes of the purple kind, some with white stripes.
Finally, are the pea aubergines, which are green, and look a bit like a bunch of grapes. Although sold in West Indian shops, they are an 'essential' ingredient in Thai green curries.
Some people find aubergine bitter, I suppose because they belong to the deadly nightshade family, which contain bitter alkaloids, like atropine. Thankfully I am not one of them, but the Turkish lady I bought some 'yard eggs' for said she thought they were bitter.
Apart from the pea aubergine, the rest all taste the same to me (once spiced!). I love them. Split and spiced is the way I like them best, and in Brinjal pickle.
Helen, thanks for that :).
I love aubergines too, in all shapes and sizes and in all recipes. They used to be bitter sometimes, but lately the bitter ones have been bred out in most countries, just like bitter Indian cucumbers and bitter 'tori/turai' Indian courgettes. Bitter ones sometimes give a tummy upset. Tomato is also from Nightshade family, some wild varieties are bitter.
Thanks, Helen: very educational.
Yes, they did indeed look like eggs. I've seen purple aubergines that size and shape. We cooked them, whole, in the oven and they exploded!
With the bigger aubergines, we used to slice them and sprinkle with salt, which was said to absorb the bitterness. Interesting to hear that bitterness has been bred out of aubergines.
An English friend once described Greek food as 'variations on an aubergine', which is a bit unfair!
"We cooked them, whole, in the oven and they exploded!"
When I cook small aubergines whole, I make a cross cut from tip to the base and leave the stalk intact. Not only it stop it from bursting, it makes the spices mingle with the flesh well too.
In India as kids, we used to love to chew on the stalk, almost like a chicken leg bone. We used to fight over who was going to get most of these 'brinjal tails', as we called them :).
Thanks for the tip, Mamta. Makes sense.
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