Friday, April 30, 2010

Brinjal, Aubergine, Eggplant

Botanical Name of Brinjal

Solanum melongena is better known as Eggplant, Brinjal, or Aubergine. The eggplant is a shiny purplish black fruit that grows on a bush. The bush stands about 50 cm tall and has pretty pink flowers before the fruit forms.

Growing Brinjal

Aubergine grows in full sun. You can cut them back in the autumn and they will fruit again in the following season. After one or two seasons, you will have to plant new ones in.
Eggplant is grown from seed in a seed tray or seedbed. It takes a week or two for the seed to come up.
You can transplant the aubergine seedlings when they are 10 cm high. Being a fruit bearing plant, you need to give aubergines a lot of compost and liquid manure. You will need about a half a dozen bushes to feed an average family.
Eggplant’s have sharp little thorns on the part that joins the fruit to the plant, the calyx, so one must be careful when harvesting not to prick one’s fingers. It is better to use a garden shear to cut the brinjals off the plant.

Brinjal ‘s Companions and Antagonists

Beans, Tarragon, Tansy, Marigolds, Lavender, Nightshade and Thyme all enjoy the company of the Eggplant. Onions, Potatoes and Garlic do not fare well in Brinjal’s company.

Brinjals nutritional value

Eggplant is rich in potassium and contains Vitamin C.

Cooking with Brinjal

It can be prepared in many interesting ways. Many curries and stews have aubergine as an ingredient and Ratatouille is the most well known eggplant dish. Brinjals do not have a long shelf life, so when they are fruiting, you have to find lots of inventive ways to use them, here is one:

Baked Eggplant

3-4 fresh Eggplants
1 cup of Grated cheese
Fresh herbs (Thyme, Basil, Oregano. Parsley)

Slice the eggplants into rings; place them on a greased baking tray or in a casserole dish. Bake at 180°C for 20 minutes, remove from the oven and sprinkle over the Garlic, Herbs and Cheese and bake for another 5 minutes. Serve with rice and salad.

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