Aubergines are cultivated and eaten throughout the world but most particularly in Europe, Asia and America. Aubergines, which are also known as ‘egg plants’, belong to the same family as potatoes, tomatoes and peppers. They originated in South Asia and the first mention of their cultivation is in China in 5 BC. The Moorish invaders introduced the aubergine to Spain and it was first mainly grown in Andalusia. From Spain its cultivation quickly spread into Italy and other Southern and Eastern parts of Europe. The white, yellowish flesh is softer and more tender than a courgette and it has a distinctive bland yet slightly smoky taste. The flesh is spongy to touch when raw but becomes soft after cooking. Aubergines are a good source of fibre and can be used to prepare a multitude of dishes.

Preparing and Using

Aubergines should feel heavy and firm to the touch, with glossy unblemished skins. When frying aubergines it is a good idea to salt the slices first to draw out some of their moisture, otherwise they absorb enormous quantities of oil during cooking (they still absorb copious amounts anyway). Aubergine slices can be fried in oil, as they are, or coated in batter or breadcrumbs and served as a starter. For moussaka parmigiana and other dishes where aubergines are layered with other ingredients, fry the slices briefly in olive oil. This gives them a tasty crust, while the insides stay soft. To make a purée as for Poor Man’s Caviar, first prick the aubergine all over with a fork and then roast in a moderately hot oven for about 30 minutes until tender. Scoop out the flesh and mix with spring onions, lemon juice and olive oil. One of the most famous aubergine dishes is Imam Bayaldi (“the Imam fainted”). This is fried aubergine, stuffed with onions, garlic, tomato, spices and lots of olive oil. Aubergines are also a key ingredient in ratatouille. Aubergines can be stuffed and baked and can be roasted along with other vegetables such as peppers and courgettes. They are used extensively in Indian, Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine, such as curries, roulades and aubergine dips. Flavours and ingredients that go with aubergines include olive oil, tomatoes, basil, tzatziki, courgettes, natural yoghurt, onions and garlic.

Nutritional Value

Nutrient Raw Cooked (fried in oil)
Energy kJ 64 1262
Kcal 15 302
Protein g 0.9 1.2
Carbohydrate g 2.2 2.8
Fat g 0.4 31.9

A good source of…

Nutrient Raw Cooked
Fibre Single Tick
Vitamin A Single Tick
Vitamin E Single TickSingle TickSingle Tick

For more information on nutrition and the details given above, check out our nutrition page.

Rack of Lamb with Spiced Aubergines

The spiced aubergines can be made ahead and reheated just before serving.

Click here for more

Beef Burgers with Sweet & Sour Aubergine

Makes a very special burger for any occasion.
Click here for more