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Aubergine Delights 

Celebrating the humble brinjal as a culinary star in its own right

The brinjal (Solanum melongena) is one of the most popular vegetables in India and many parts of South Asia. It is believed to have been first domesticated in India, from where it spread to Africa and Europe through Persian and Arab merchants around the 12th century.

It is a plant that grows quickly and is suited to arid conditions, making it a favourite of local farmers. Referred to as Jew’s Apple, it is found in almost all the communal farms of Israel and is a popular street food there.

Owing to its versatility, the brinjal – also known as the eggplant and aubergine in other parts of the world – offers itself up to a great variety of culinary experiments. You can have it stuffed and baked, sautéed, poached or roasted to suit a variety of tastes. 

It is one of the few vegetables with a pretty long unrefrigerated shelf life. This is probably one of the reasons why the brinjal is a staple vegetable of many poor households in Africa and Asia.

There are a great many brinjal preparations in India defined by regions and distinguished by their signature preparations and flavours. One such is the Badanekai Yennegai Gojju from North Karnataka. It is a recipe featuring stuffed brinjals fried in oil and placed in a rich gravy of freshly ground masalas and customarily eaten with rotis (flatbreads) made from local millets like sorghum and jowar. It is a dish that was cooked up to delight the palate of both king and pauper alike.

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