Most of the non-vegetarians and non-vegans think that vegan plates are bland and boring. But little do they know about the variety of delicious vegetables and fruits which actually demolish the usual belief of healthy foods being tasteless. Because of the wrong representation of vegan foods, this misconception still remains.
However, it’s not entirely true that vegans have explored all the fruits and vegetables the earth has to offer. Most of the time, a particular item gets neglected because it’s not very common, and people have little knowledge about it. An eggplant could be taken for an example as we still have some unanswered queries regarding its taste, which category it falls under, how we should use it in our diets, and so on.
So, let’s proceed to know what eggplant taste like, how you can change the taste while cooking, and other important aspects of it that are yet to be answered.
What’s an Eggplant?
Eggplant, which is also known as brinjal and aubergine, is shockingly a seeded berry and not a vegetable! It is a plant species belonging to the nightshade family named Solanaceae. Eggplants generally have a purple color and are originated in either India or China. This spongy fruit actually falls under the category of potatoes and tomatoes as eggplants are usually eaten cooked like a potato. Like a tomato, the skin and the seeds could be eaten.
What does an Eggplant look like?
Eggplants resemble the shape of an egg, which is why this name is given. The size differs as the wild eggplants can be around 3 cm, whereas the cultivated forms can be more than 30 cm in diameter. While eggplants are usually purple in color, they can have many colors like lavender, yellowish-white, and even orange. In the West, eggplants are found to be longer and narrower.
It is known that in the 17th century, Thomas Jefferson first introduced this fruit to the US. After a century, eggplants became a widely used ingredient in this part of the world. (Source)
What Does an Eggplant Taste like?
Unlike their color and size, which differ, the taste of an eggplant remains the same in all varieties. Eggplants are usually bland and quite bitter if you eat them raw. The taste of an overripe eggplant is more bitter than the perfectly ripe ones.
The taste of an eggplant can be compared to zucchini, as both have similar tastelessness with some bitterness. But now eggplants are cultivated so that the bitter taste of them has become less strong.
However, the unappetizing bitterness of an eggplant vanishes when you cook it. Its spongy texture absorbs the oil and flavors of other ingredients that are cooked with it. So, actually, eggplants are very versatile as you can cook them the way you want and enjoy their heavenly taste.
What is an Eggplant Used For?
Eggplants can cause some digestive problems if you eat them raw. That’s why they are cooked nicely. The fact of eggplants being versatile opens up many cooking options for us. They are widely used for sautéing and stuffing. But they can also be used in soups and stews. They can be a part of steamed and baked dishes.
Eggplants are also grilled and roasted. You can stir-fry them or put them in your curry. Because they are very absorbent, you can also make use out of them by adding them in various spreads and dips.
Benefits of Having an Eggplant
If you want to have more nutrients from your diet, be ready to include eggplant in your meal.
Eggplants are filled with fibers, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, so you get all the goodness in one fruit. Besides that, eggplants are proven to have numerous health benefits, like curing asthma and bronchitis, which is why it has been used in traditional medicine. (Source)
The benefits of having an Eggplant are –
1. Great Source of Essential Nutrients
Eggplants contain vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B6, niacin, magnesium, potassium, thiamine, manganese, fiber, copper, folic acid, and many more essential nutrients to improve your health.
2. Helps Improve Digestion
Eggplants have a high fiber content which is a vital element in maintaining proper digestion. Because of this, eggplants actually contribute to improving the gastrointestinal health of your body. If you are vegan and having frequent digestive issues, you can consider trying out probiotic supplements.
3. Improves Bone Health
Eggplants are proven to improve bone density. Potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, which are known to strengthen your bones, are all found in eggplants. That’s why eggplants reduce osteoporosis, helping to preserve your overall bone health.
4. Maintains Good Heart Health
Eggplants are filled with fibers, which decreases the cholesterol our body absorbs and maintains good heart health. Also, an eggplant’s skin is filled with antioxidants, which again contributes to a better heart.
5. Helps in Weight Loss
Eggplants are very watery and low in calories. That’s why they are an ideal food if you want to cut short your calorie intake to reduce some weight. (Source)
How Can You Tell If an Eggplant Is Good?
Here are some tips you can follow in choosing the right eggplant.
- Feel the weight of the eggplant. If it seems very light compared to its size, there can be a possibility of that eggplant being ruined. If it is too heavy, then it’s probably an overripe one.
- Take a look at the skin. The skin of an Eggplant should not have any discoloration or bruises.
- Have a quick finger test. Press your finger against the skin of an Eggplant. If you see the skin bouncing back, it’s that eggplant without any hesitation. But if the indentation stays for a while, you should wait for some days before eating it.
5 Tips for Changing the Taste of an Eggplant When Cooking
There are some tips to follow if you want to incorporate this healthy fruit into your diet. These are –
1. Adding Salt
The most tried and tested method to remove an Eggplant’s bitterness is to sprinkle a nice amount of salt to eggplant. After they are cut into slices or cubes, add some salt, coat the slices, and keep them for at least 10 minutes before cooking to eliminate the bitterness.
2. Soak in Milk
It’s not a very well-known method, but it’s 100% effective. Put some milk in a bowl and soak the slices of eggplant for around 30 minutes. Then cook them to avoid bitterness.
3. Cooking it in the Right Amount of Fat
Eggplants are like a sponge; they absorb oil like magic. So, you should be adding enough oil to cook eggplants because it will soak up much of the oil. If you don’t, the raw bitterness will remain.
4. Cooking Eggplants with Many Ingredients
Eggplants taste best when they are crispy outside and smooth on the inside. This can be achieved if you give enough time to cook eggplants, not with many other vegetables. That caramelization only happens when you give eggplants enough space to brown.
5. Take out the Seeds
You can always take out the seeds of an Eggplant if it tastes very bitter to you. In that way, you will be having only the goodness and not the bitter taste of it.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Does Eggplant Taste Like Zucchini?
Yes, eggplants and zucchini have a similar bland and bitter taste. (check out vegan zucchini recipe)
2. How Do You Get the Bitterness Out of Eggplants?
There are many ways to do so. You can add salt and to the sliced eggplants and keep them for a while before cooking, or you can soak them in milk for 30 minutes before cooking. You can also take out the seeds to eliminate the bitterness.
Eggplants are very tasty. And because of their versatile nature, they can be easily cooked in any way, which seems good to you. Also, the health benefits of eggplants are very surprising. They improve our heart and bone health and also help to maintain a good digestive system like Bananas (bananas are vegan). So do not ignore a shiny eggplant when you’re in the market and cook them to impress your taste buds.