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The Gleaming Aubergine
deep purples, creams and reds
They are now at their best – this is their time to shine – the gleaming aubergine.
Did you know that the aubergine is in fact classed as berries, therefore a fruit, not actually a vegetable.
Who hasn’t walked past them in a shop and thought they look beautiful – or is that just me?
I bet you’ve never delved down deeper into the aubergine have you, when I started researching the aubergine, I was really surprised at its history – these kids have been on the circuit for thousands of years, and I mean thousands.
It is really hard to get an exact date, but history has them growing wild on the African Savannas, around 325BC, we know this because Alexander the Great fell in love with this vegetable whilst on his travels, and their seeds were taken back to Magna Grecia (Southern Italy). When these were first introduced to Italy, people believed that anyone who ate the so-called mad apple (which is what they called them) was sure to go insane.
We know more about the cultivated aubergine, as trade routes opened the aubergine started being cultivated in South-East Asia, likely India, China, Thailand, Burma and were known as brinjal.
Also, in China it was a requirement of a bride’s dowry that a woman must know how to prepare at least twelve aubergine recipes before her wedding day. I would have been OK if the groom liked cake!!!
Aubergines are member of the nightshade family which also include tomatoes, capsicum peppers and potatoes, and like them their leaves are too poisonous.
They are closely related to tobacco and contains more nicotine than any other vegetable, However, you would need to eat at a lot of aubergines to equate to the same amount of nicotine.
You have probably noticed in the shops all the different varieties, colours and sizes, and this is where the name eggplant comes from it. In the United States and Australia they called the aubergine eggplant as the small, plump ivory fruit looked like eggs growing on a plant.
However, it wasn’t until the 1960’s that Aubergines found popularity in the UK, and more recently being used in cakes and sweet treats. We have some wonderful recipes in our book for aubergine, for instance, we used the wonderful Persian inspired flavours of cardamom and rose to create an aubergine, rose and cardamom cake, again aubergine is used a lot in Persian cooking.
The nutritional values of Aubergine are high, considering they are nearly 95% eater they also contain B vitamins, vitamin K and C along with other nutrients and various phytonutrients which aid the body by decreasing the presence of harmful free radicals!
I will post a recipe for an aubergine cake later in our next blog, in the meantime you can find some aubergine recipes in our book, Cakes with Secret Ingredients from Aubergine to Zucchini available here.