Brinjal is a unique food rich in antioxidants. While the bulbous purple shape is the most commonly recognized form of brinjal, it can be slim, egg-shaped and even white in colour. Brinjal is an acquired taste for many people. It's sweet, but not like a bell pepper or corn, and it's meaty, like a Portobello mushroom. Its slight bitter taste is adaptable and takes on the flavor of any accompanying seasonings.
Dieters love brinjal for its low caloric content. A full cup of brinjal contains a scant 27 calories. The preparation method of the vegetable, however, can boost the calorie count significantly in some cases. Brinjal is a very good source of dietary fiber, as well as the essential nutrients potassium, magnesium, and folic acid. Brinjal also contains a phytonutrient called nasunin, which contributes to heart health.
Brinjal can be cooked in a variety of ways, from frying to broiling and baking. Salt slices of brinjal and lay them on a paper towel 30 minutes before cooking. Salting can both draw out excess water and render the vegetable less bitter. The food is very porous and soaks up quite a bit of oil and grease during frying, so use cooking oils sparingly to keep brinjal heart-healthy. Peel the brinjal before cooking for optimum tenderness. The ability of brinjal to meld with many flavours makes the vegetable an ideal addition to almost any flavour combination, including:
- Pasta: fry pieces of brinjal with garlic and olive oil until tender and toss with rotini or penne
- Cheeses: cover thick slices of brinjal with marinara sauce and cheese and bake
- Mediterranean salad: boil brinjal until tender, slice and toss with red peppers, black olives, and feta cheese
- Grilled: slice into slabs and grill three to four minutes on each side. Serve with a splash of balsamic vinegar
The size of a brinjal depends on the variety. The large oval variety can become quite large (up to eight inches long) and is so big around that you may have difficulty eating an entire brinjal in one sitting. Fresh brinjal can be stored in plastic wrap or an airtight plastic bag in the refrigerator for a day or two, but use the uncooked leftovers as soon as possible to prevent them from becoming bitter. Blanch and freeze washed and peeled slices of uncooked brinjal for later use.
Brinjal contains nicotine, the same addictive substance present in tobacco products. The levels of the chemical are very low, however, and won't hurt you. You would have to consume at least 9 kilograms of brinjal to ingest the same amount of nicotine found in one cigarette.