The fruit of a plant native to Southern Asia, the aubergine is now widely grown in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions of the world. A member of the potato family, it is also known as eggplant, brinjal, meianzana, garden egg and patlican. There are many varieties of aubergines, which range from dark purple to pale mauve, and from yellow to white. They vary in shape from long and thin to pear shaped and quite round. The long, purple variety of aubergine is the one most commonly eaten.
Aubergines may be cooked whole in the skins or sliced and fried, baked, grilled or stuffed. They may also be stewed with mutton or lamb. The aubergine is one of the most popular vegetables in the world. It is eaten in the Far East, South Asia, Eastern Europe and America.
In the West, aubergines are usually sliced or chopped, sprinkled with salt and left to drain. The slices are then dried before cooking. Salting and draining removes some of the bitterness as well as the excess moisture, therefore requiring less fat for frying.
Only firm, smooth, shiny aubergines of uniform colour should be selected for cooking.