Vegetable or fruit?
Although often considered a vegetable, the Aubergine is technically a fruit, as they grow from a flowering plant and contain seeds
Are aubergines good for you?
Aubergines are a good source of vitamins B1 and B6. Vitamin B1, also called thiamine, helps your body turn food into energy and can also help keep your nervous system healthy. Our bodies can't make vitamin B1 themselves, which means we rely on our diet to get all we need.
How do you eat aubergine?
Whole aubergines are often barbecued, roasted over an open flame or baked whole before having the flesh scooped out to make baba ganoush and other dips. Skinnier varieties can be halved, and the cut flesh scored and brushed with oil before they are baked, grilled or barbecued.
Aubergines are in season right now so try and enjoy these delicious aubergine recipes.
Lamb stuffed baby aubergines
oil, for deep-frying
8 baby aubergines
2 large round flatbreads, cut into squares
cashew nuts, to serve
For the red sauce:
oil, for frying, ¼ tsp cumin seeds, 1 garlic clove, crushed, 1 tbsp tomato paste, ½ tsp mild madras powder, ½ tsp black pepper, ½ tsp ground cumin, ½ tsp seven spice powder (see tip, below)
For the lamb filling:
100g lamb mince, olive oil, for frying, 25g pine nuts
For the yogurt sauce:
200ml Greek yogurt, 4 tbsp tahini, ½ lemon, juiced, 1 garlic clove, crushed
First, make the red sauce. Heat a little oil in a pan, then add the cumin seeds and fry until they smell fragrant. Add the rest of the ingredients along with ½ tsp salt and 200ml water, and cook until the sauce thickens a little – it should be the consistency of single cream.
Trim the tops off the baby aubergines, then peel strips of skin off in stripes and hollow out the core out with a small sharp knife or the end of a teaspoon. Soak the aubergines in salted cold water so they keep their colour, then drain well, squeeze lightly and pat dry.
Fill a pan one-third full of oil and heat until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds. Deep-fry the flatbread pieces until they are crisp and browned but not burnt, about 30-40 seconds. Drain well. Deep-fry the aubergine in batches for 4-5 mins until browned and tender, then drain on kitchen paper.
Fry the minced lamb in a pan with a little olive oil until browned and cooked through, then add the pine nuts and season. Stuff the aubergines with the lamb mince mixture – you can either stuff the mince into the hole at either end, or split the aubergines and then add the stuffing (this way allows you to get more lamb in). Put the stuffed aubergines in a pan with 6 tbsp of the red sauce and cook for 5 mins.
Put the Greek yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and some salt in a bowl, and mix well. If it feels a little thick, add some cold water. You can make this ahead and chill in the fridge until ready to serve.
To serve, spoon the tahini yogurt into a large bowl. Top with a handful of the flatbread chips, the aubergines and all the red sauce. Finish with a sprinkle of cashew nuts, then serve the rest of the chips on the side.
Smokey aubergine dip
1-3 garlic cloves, crushed (to taste)
1 lemon, juice only
2-4 tbsp tahini
3 tbsp olive oil
black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
Prick the aubergines with a fork. Grill the aubergines until the skin is charred and blacked and the flesh feels soft when you press it (this will take approximately 15-20 minutes, turning repeatedly through cooking until the whole skin is charred).
In a pestle and mortar, crush the garlic with the lemon juice, tahini, olive oil and pepper.
When cool enough to handle, cut the aubergines in half and scoop out the flesh. Mix the soft flesh with the remaining ingredients.
Place in a serving dish, finish with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle the parsley over the top.
Aubergine & Chickpea Curry
2 tbsp sunflower oil , plus extra to serve, if you like
1 tbsp brown or black mustard seeds
10-12 curry leaves , plus extra to serve, if you like
2 onions , finely chopped
2 dried chillies , chopped
4 tsp garam masala
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp turmeric
400ml can coconut milk
6 tomatoes , quartered
400g can chickpeas , rinsed and drained
Halve the aubergines, then cut each half into wedges. Heat ½ tbsp oil in a large pan, preferably non-stick, and brown half the aubergines for 2-3 mins on each side until golden brown and crisp all over. Scoop onto a plate, repeat with more oil and the remaining aubergines, and then set everything aside.
Add the remaining oil to the pan with the mustard seeds and curry leaves and fry for 30 secs until fragrant. Stir in the onions and continue cooking until they are softened and beginning to brown. Add the dried chillies and spices with a spoonful of the thick coconut milk from the top of the can, then fry for 1 min more. Add the remaining coconut milk, tomatoes and half a can of water. Simmer for 25-30 mins until thick and saucy.
Stir in the chickpeas and aubergines. Continue simmering for 5 mins or so, until everything is hot and the aubergines are tender. Serve with rice or warm naan bread, scattered with a few extra curry leaves sizzled in a splash of oil, f you like.