One of the joys of summer is enjoying its produce and summer means eggplants are in season. Eggplants also known as aubergine or brinjal must be one of the best and most versatile vegetables. It is used in almost every cuisine worldwide and comes in a variety of shapes, colours and sizes. From small green and pea sized, long and thin, rounded, egg shaped, or big and fat. There is a variety in Sri Lanka that is a little larger than a marble and striped green or a yellow brown colour called ‘Batu’ which is slightly bitter but is delicious curried. The large shiny purple varieties are one of my favourites. They can be green, mauve, white, striped green and white or mauve and white, yellow brown and a deep shiny purple black and no matter the colour and size they are all lovely to cook with.
Eggplants can be cooked in so many different ways: fried, steamed, baked, roasted, grilled, braised, puréed, smoked, and curried, they lend themselves to so many different treatments and are delicious. I like the big fat purple eggplants thickly sliced and grilled until the char marks appear and then drizzled with a good olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper and a touch of balsamic vinegar. This is great hot or cold. Eggplants can be stuffed with meat or vegetable and one dish that I remember from a restaurant was a steamed eggplant custard – silkily smooth and delicious.
One of my favourites has to be a Sri Lankan ‘brinjal pahi’ which is very easy to prepare and is almost a pickle because of the tangy flavours of tamarind, mustard and vinegar – check out the recipe