Thursday, January 8, 2009

Eggplant (Aubergines) – BA-TIN-JAN

The delectable, yet mystical eggplant is known by many names, some quite unflattering. When Europeans first encountered the fruit, it had gained an intimidating reputation with its "mad apple" label. Even after the eggplant developed secure Mediterranean roots, it was still called mala insana, meaning "bad egg, mad apple, or apple of madness." Lifting its perplexing veil, the eggplant reveals its family members are to blame.

The Western or Globe Eggplant, with its plump, elongated pear shape and shiny deep purple color this variety is ideal for stuffing, sautéing, baking, and grilling

Japanese eggplant is long and slender, about 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) in length and about 1 1/2-inches (3.5 cm) in diameter. Its color is usually deep purple but can sometimes be a little lighter purple with greenish patches. This variety is frequently stir-fried, grilled, sautéed, and even pickled.

Chinese eggplant is also long and slender but is distinguished by its brilliant violet color and tender skin. Its flavour is sweet, making it ideal for stir-frying and grilling.

Italian Eggplant is small and round with white flesh and striking violet streaks and markings. This variety is unique because it retains its shape when cooked and is good for baking, sautéing, and grilling.

Another Italian variety, Listada de Gandia, is long and oval, and distinguished by its purple and white stripes. The skin may be slightly bitter but the flesh is firm and flavorful. It can be used for grilling, sautéing, baking, and stir-frying

Eggplant Cuisine The eggplant touched many lands along its centuries-long sojourn. Everywhere it traveled, the revered fruit became infused into the cuisines -- China, India, Italy, France, the Middle East, Persia, Russia, the United States, Greece, and Turkey.
Baingan Bharta is a favorite Indian curry made by first roasting the eggplants until very soft. The flesh is scraped from the skin and combined with tomatoes, onions, and garlic, then slowly cooked with fresh and dried coriander, cumin, turmeric, and other spices until thickened and richly flavoured.
Europeans like to scoop out the flesh of the eggplant leaving the uncooked rind. They roast it and mash it with salt, pepper, and butter. Then they spoon the mixture back into the rind, and bake it.

In Turkey, eggplant cubes are threaded onto shish kebab (kabab Batinjan)skewers along with chunks of lamb. Another beloved dish of this region is Imam Bayildi, an onion and tomato stuffed eggplant seasoned with garlic and olive oil. The country is so enamored with eggplant; the Turks claim to have 40 different ways to prepare it, including "the poor man's caviar," a roasted, mashed eggplant seasoned with onions, tomatoes, lemon juice, and salt.
Italians serve Eggplant Parmigiano as their entrée and often begin their meal with an appetizer of Caponata, a robust mixture of sautéed bite-sized eggplant cubes, capers, chopped green olives, onions, pine nuts, and bell peppers in olive oil and red wine vinegar.
In France eggplant becomes Ratatouille, a delicious vegetable stew that includes zucchini, bell peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and herbal seasonings.
The Chinese cut the long, slender purple wonders into irregular shapes and stir-fry them with basil, or prepare the eggplant in a spicy Szechuan style.
A favorite of Middle Eastern cooks is Baba Ghanouj, an appetizer that combines roasted eggplant with sesame tahini, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt.

Eggplants Medical benefits:
While some practitioners of Eastern medicine may consider eggplant beneficial in treating uterine tumours, they also recommend that people with loose stools avoid the fruit.
For people with arthritis and related problems of the bones and joints, some physicians suggest patients eliminate foods of the nightshade family. Because this food group contains solanine, a calcium inhibitor, consuming it can further enhance mineral imbalance and add to joint pain and swelling. Doctors suggest eliminating nightshade vegetables from the diet for six weeks, then adding them back one at a time to see if the body is able to tolerate them.
Members of the nightshade family include eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, and all peppers with the exception of black pepper. These foods contain a toxin called solanine, an alkaloid that may cause diarrheal, heart failure, headache, and vomiting in some sensitive people.
For people who tolerate eggplant well, the medicinal benefits are many. Eating the fruit can reduce swelling, clear stagnant blood, reduce bleeding, comfort bleeding hemorrhoids, and treat dysentery.
Eggplant's ample bioflavonoid may be beneficial in preventing strokes and hemorrhages. The fruit contains the phytochemical monoterpene, an antioxidant helpful in preventing heart disease and cancer. The National Cancer Institute has been examining vegetables of the nightshade family, especially eggplant, to see if they may inhibit the production of steroidal hormones that encourage tumor growth. Eggplant may also prevent the oxidation of cells that leads to cancer growth.
For scorpion bites, apply raw eggplant directly on the affected area. For frostbite, prepare a tea of eggplant, bring it to room temperature, and apply a compress to affected areas.

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