Awesome aubergine!

Two easy, delicious, aubergine recipes.

One a Chinese vegetable dish; the other a starter or snack from Georgia—as in the country on the Black Sea, not the US state. My first time making a Georgian recipe.

(Thanks to Becca Wilson, one of our daughter Aisha’s oldest friends, for the Georgian suggestion!)

I remember a year or so ago, long before COVID hit us, Tesco stopped stocking aubergines (eggplants if you’re North American or antipodean, melanzane if you’re Italian, terong if you’re Indonesian, brinjal if your South Asian). They were gone for months—and nobody could ever explain why. Sainsbury’s had them, so it was no more than an inconvenience. Not being able to find aubergines at all would have been a crisis! (They’re back in Tesco now, by the way.)
Aubergine has to be up there among my absolute favourite vegetables. And probably the most versatile. You can grill it, fry it, or bake it and it still retains a meaty mouth-feel. There’s not a cuisine that I know anything about that doesn’t use aubergines as a regular ingredient.
Aubergines come in many shapes, colours, and sizes. In the UK we’re obviously familiar with the big purple ones. But in other places you can find thin ones, spherical ones, green ones, striped ones—and more. The reason they’re called eggplants in America is simply that the original ones found there looked just like eggs: white and ovoid. There’s a variety we get in Indonesia that are greeny-white, the size and shape of golfballs—they are crispy, like an apple, and we eat them raw in salads or in a chilli sambal

Aubergine & green pepper

in garlic sauce


For three to four people, as an accompaniment, or part of a sharing meal.


  • Aubergines | 2
    The standard big purple ones you find in supermarkets
  • Green pepper | 1
    You can also use red or yellow or orange—or even purple if you can find one
  • Spring onions | 2
  • Garlic | 3 large cloves
  • Rapeseed oil | 3 tbsps
    Or other vegetable oil. Rapeseed is the one considered to be best for frying. It doesn’t oxidize into aldehydes when heated (high in monounsaturates), while at the same time is low in saturated fats).
  • Soya sauce | 1 tbsp
  • Sugar | ½ tsp
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  • Pre-heat oven to 180ºC
  • Aubergines
    Cut into bite-size pieces. Soak in salted water in a bowl for 10 to 15 minutes , weighed down with a plate and something heavy, like a smaller bowl full of water. Tip water from bowl, but don’t pat the aubergine dry—the pieces should remain wetted.
  • Peppers, spring onions
    Cut into big chunks
  • Garlic
    Chop finely


  1. Mix the damp aubergine in a little of the oil—enough to coat all the pieces.
  2. Roast the oiled aubergine in a roasting tin for 15 to 20 minutes—until soft when poked with a knife. Stir once for even browning.
  3. Pour the rest of the oil into a hot wok (or large frying pan).
  4. Fry the garlic over a medium heat until fragrant, being careful not to burn it.
  5. Mix in the soya sauce, sugar, and pepper pieces.
  6. When the pepper has begun to soften (but is still crunchy) add the spring onion and roasted aubergine pieces.
  7. Season well and mix thoroughly. 


Ideal for serving with barbecued chicken, or other meat, or as part of a sharing meal with rice and other dishes.

Badrijani nigvzit

Aubergine with walnut paste filling


Quantities for four to six people as an appetizer 


  • Aubergines | 2
    The standard big purple ones you find in supermarkets
  • Walnuts | 1 cupful of kernels
    I’m lazy and usually buy ready-shelled walnuts in a packet
  • Garlic | 2 cloves
  • Ground Coriander | 1 tsp
  • Dried chilli flakes | ½ tsp
  • White wine vinegar | 1 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds | ¼ tsp
    Can be substituted with ground fenugreek—and either is optional
  • Rapeseed oil | 2 or 3 tbsps
  • Salt
  • Pomegranate seeds | enough to garnish
    You can also use coriander leaves or spring onions


  • Pre-heat oven to 200ºC
  • Aubergines
    Cut lengthwise into 1cm slices
  • Pomegranate seeds
    Cut open a pomegranate by running a sharp knife around its ‘equator’, deep enough to cut through the skin. Gently separate the two halves of the fruit. Hold a half in one hand, seeds towards your hand, with your fingers slightly open. Holding it over a bowl, bash the back of the fruit with a heavy spoon or similar until the seeds fall out. I find the wooden spoon suggested by most cooks is just not heavy enough for the job. I find one of my stone pestles is perfect.
  • Coriander leaves, spring onions
    If you are going to use either or both these for garnish they should be chopped medium fine


  1. In advance, even days before to let the flavour develop, grind together the walnuts, garlic, ground coriander, chilli flakes, fenugreek (if used), and vinegar, with a splash of water, in a chopper or food processor. Use enough water to give a smooth, but not watery, paste.  
  2. Taste and add salt as required. The paste should be savoury and tangy. Keep it in the fridge until needed.
  3. Put the aubergine slices in a roasting tin and brush both sides with oil
  4. Roast until soft and nicely brown (about 15 minutes)
  5. Let the aubergine slices cool a little, then spread a layer of the walnut paste on each and roll them up.
  6. Arrange on a serving plate and scatter the pomegranate seeds over the top (or the coriander leaves or spring onions.

Let’s talk about bitter

There is no doubt that bitterness is an acquired taste, For most people the first taste of beer or coffee does not produce unqualified joy. In some food cultures—Indonesia’s for example—bitterness is more prevalent than others. But more and more cooks and food commentators believe that some bitterness is a good thing, both from the point of view of flavour, and of healthy eating. And that the food we eat nowadays is having bitterness bred out of it.

NewScientist had an interesting article a few years ago on the topic: Bitter truth: How we’re making fruit and veg less healthy.

Are aubergines bitter? I certainly don’t think so. Maybe they used to be years ago. But the Los Angeles Times carried a piece in 2003 in praise of the eggplant, Downright voluptuous. Even then columnist Russ Parsons claimed they weren’t bitter at all.

Aubergines are good for you!

I’m not going to get into dietary benefits (I’ll leave that to the millions of people who have opinions about such things) but enough to say that there is good evidence that the anthocyanins that give aubergine it’s glorious purple colour and slightly bitter taste are potent antioxidants that mop up the free-radicals that contribute to cancer and heart disease.

Among many articles on the subject NewScientist published Purple tomatoes could ward off cancer a few years ago.

The website Compound Interest has an interesting infographic on the chemistry of aubergines (see below)

Picture credits

Three types of eggplant | JE Fee
Thai eggplants | Pullao

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