I love eating and it is because of all fond food memories that I continue to enjoy food above making or cooking it, no ingredient has left such a deep impression like this fruit. From early childhood memories, enjoying grandma Dennie’s brinjal breyani, I remember every little detail up to the table cloth in her small Berea flat. My first vegan meal with brinjal and peanuts at the Hare Krishna house in Hillbrow, the aubergine chutney served with the Flying Boar Burger by Wynand van Rooyen. My first outside catering function where we served fried egg plants. Every time I make salad at home it ends up having brinjal in it, and my daughter loves me for this.
How can I forget, two years ago while travelling through Malaysia on the Eastern Oriental Express en route to Singapore, we had just passed the River Kwai when lunch was served, a fiery Thai chicken curry with the tiniest little brinjal (makhuea pro).
As a young executive chef one of my first gourmet wine evenings working at the Parktonian hotel in Braamfontein, I got this amazing recipe from Art Culinaire, a pressed vegetable terrine with layers of delicately cooked vegetables, each flavoured to perfection then brought together in one moment with grilled brinjal, slow roasted tomatoes, roasted peppers. It was so simple but at the same time it was complex.
Call them what you want…… they are amazing, my new favourite baked with miso, so unbelievable!
If eaten raw it has a bitter taste, but once cooked it becomes a vessel that works with so many applications absorbing and highlighting the richness, as Fortunato Mazzone makes his “parmigiana di melanzane”, fried and baked with tomato and Parmesan, this is a recipe that is worth killing for.
Moussaka, Ratatouille, Baba Ghanoush, İmam bayildi, Caponata. It is clear that it is an important part of any vegans and vegetarians diet and it is clear to see why. Even dried brinjal that is seasoned with vinegar, salt, coriander and pepper then dried to look like biltong sticks.
Greatest thing about a brinjal is that it is available all year round, original word brinjal derived from Portuguese name beringela. Derived from the Arabic term badinjan. The French transformed it to Aubergine. Called egg plant when introduced to Europe and America because of the common variety grown resembled hen’s egg.
So call it what you want melanzana, garden egg, patlican, brinjal, egg plant, aubergine, badnijan
Baba Ghanoush (Egg plant dip)
4 ea large Brinjal
2 tbsp parsley chopped
2 tbsp mint chopped or chiffonade
4 Garlic cloves roasted and 1 raw chopped crushed fine
30ml lemon juice and 1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 – 3tbsp / 20-30ml tahini
40 ml olive oil
salt and black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp sesame toasted
Prick the aubergines with a fork.
Grill the aubergines on an open flame grill until charred. Brinjal will be soft. This will take a good 20 minutes.
Allow to cool and remove pulp and chop fine
Combine garlic, zest, lemon juice, tahini, olive oil and pepper.
Combine the flesh with garlic mixture, parsley and mint.
Adjust seasoning and serve.
If you prefer a more smokey Baba Ghanoush, slice brinjals into thick slices, season rub with olive oil then grill.