From the tiny pea to the slender finger variety, here’s how the world’s cooks have harnessed these smoky, bitter, velvety wonders, including Italy’s heavenly parmigiana and Japan’s sticky miso dish.
By
Angela Nahas

1 May 2013 - 11:31 AM  UPDATED 30 Mar 2021 - 5:13 PM

Recipes

Thailand

Apple eggplants (green or white and golf-ball sized), Thai purple eggplants and pea eggplants (bitter and the size of large peas) are a common inclusion in Thai curries, especially green and jungle curries.

Chicken and eggplant yellow curry in banana leaf parcels

Japan

The eggplant is a favourite vegetable in Japan where it is cooked in a variety of ways, including deep-fried for tempura, added to nimono (simmered dishes), and pickled for tsukemono (Japanese pickles).

Miso-glazed eggplant

France

Believed to have originated in France in the 18th century, the timbale is a drum-shaped mould which was originally used to cook savoury, custard-based dishes. The name also refers to the dish itself, commonly a mixture of poultry, seafood, vegetables or forcemeat which is baked inside the timbale mould.

Timbale d’aubergine (stuffed eggplant timbales)

Italy

It is one of Italy’s most famous dishes, yet its origins remain in dispute, and continue to cause debate between northeners and southerners. The name of this cheesy eggplant bake infers that it is cooked ‘Parma-style’ and therefore hails from the Emilia-Romagna region in the north.

Melanzane alla parmigiana (eggplant parmigiana)