This is an easy sautéed Brinjal Curry with capsicum and red and orange bell peppers, quick to make, and for me, comfort food. Take it with roti or rice and dal or rasam, or morekuzhambu, or like I do, sandwich it between two slices of bread and a tasty cheese and grill it.
How To Prepare Brinjal for Brinjal Capsicum Curry
When you slice the brinjal or eggplant and leave it untended for a short while, the flesh begins to brown. This is caused by the oxidation of polyphenols, such as the phenolic compound in the brinjal, viz, chlorogenic acid. When slicing brinjal I sprinkle salt and turmeric powder immediately on the slices. The salt draws out some of the bitterness inherent in the eggplant while the turmeric not only marinates the slices but prevents them from turning black. I also also use a stainless steel knife to slice the eggplant, as I have read that stainless steel does not react with the phytochemicals in the fruit which may otherwise turn black.
I use Olive oil for making the Brinjal curry, and sometimes Sunflower oil, rather than any oil with a strong personality which may overpower the taste of the brinjal.
The taste of the brinjal curry and the nutrition, is enhanced by adding slices of tomato and capsicum or different coloured peppers. Fresh green peas taste good in the brinjal curry with capsicum too.
The trick to tasty fried brinjal curry is to really sauté it well, stirring frequently, on a low flame.
The Etymology of the Brinjal or Eggplant
Some interesting tidbits about the Brinjal (which gets promptly redirected in ‘Search’ to Eggplant) from Wikipedia:
Eggplant is the common name in North America and Australia, but British English uses the French word aubergine. It is known in South Asia, Southeast Asia and South Africa as brinjal, melongene (Caribbean), and formerly melongena and mad-apple. In 13th century Italian traditional folklore, it was said that the eggplant can cause insanity! In 19th century Egypt, it was said that insanity was “more common and more violent” when the eggplant is in season in the summer. Its relationship with the nightshades led to the earlier beliefs that it was poisonous. Wikipedia goes on to say that the flowers and leaves can be poisonous if consumed in large quantities due to the presence of solanine.
According to Wikipedia (again) the word “eggplant” was first recorded in 1767, and was originally applied to white varieties; some 18th-century European cultivars were small, round, yellow or white, resembling goose or hen’s eggs. The other names, even mad-apple, all ultimately derive from a Dravidian word with reflexes in modern Malayalam vaṟutina and Tamil vaṟutuṇai, transmitted through Sanskrit vātigama, Prakrit vāiṃaṇa, Persian bādingān, and Arabic bāḏinjān.
The Anglo-Indian name “brinjal” or brinjaul comes from the Portuguese bringella, bringiela, or beringela, whereas the name baingan or baigan, also sometimes used in English in South Asia as well as in Trinidad, appears to be re-borrowed from the Sanskrit or Persian name.”…” In the western Mediterranean, the Arabic (al)-bāḏinjān was borrowed as Spanish alberengena and berenjena, Catalan albergínia, and Portuguese beringela, whence the modern French aubergine (and the earlier albergine, albergaine, albergame, belingèle), the source of the British English aubergine.
In the eastern Mediterranean, bāḏinjān was borrowed into Byzantine Greek as melanzana, influenced by Greek μελανο- ‘black’. This came into Italian as melongiana and melanzana, and into Medieval Latin as melongena. The Latin name was later used by Tournefort as a genus name, then by Linnaeus as a species name. These forms came into English, though melongene has become obsolete, as have the French merangène, melongène/melanjan. In Italian, melanzana was interpreted as mela insana ‘crazy apple’, then translated into English as mad apple.”
I make this Brinjal Curry with Capsicum whenever I find stocks at the supermarket of the long purple Nasu Japanese Brinjal sold by First Agro Farms at Bangalore. They slice so beautifully and cook very fast. Knowing that I have sourced Safe food which is zero pesticide and non GMO gives that ‘feel good’ satisfaction!
Culinary variations of the Brinjal or Aubergine
Wikipedia continues,”The fruit is widely used in cooking. As a member of the genus Solanum, it is related to the tomato and the potato. It was originally domesticated from the wild nightshade species, the thorn or bitter apple, S. incanum” …”Botanically classified as a berry, the fruit contains numerous small, soft seeds that, though edible, taste bitter because they contain nicotinoid alkaloids like the related tobacco.”
Related to the tomato – I can understand, but related to the potato and the tobacco plant? That’s surprising! Some further reading showed me that the brinjal actually contains nicotine, however in negligible quantities of 0.01mg/100g!
The culinary uses of the brinjal are varied depending on the region, though it is an ingredient in many cuisines: Stewed as in the French ratatouille, deep fried in parmigiana di melanzane in Italy, or in mousaka in Greece, the Middle East and South Asia and karmyarik in Turkey. A delicious dish when dipped in batter and deep fried and served with a tahini and tamarind sauce. In Iranian cuisine, it is blended with whey as kashk e bademjan, tomatoes as mirza ghassemi or made into stew as khoresh-e-bademjan. It can be sliced and deep-fried, then served with plain yogurt (optionally topped with a tomato and garlic sauce), such as in the Turkish dish patlıcan kızartması (meaning fried aubergines), or without yogurt, as in patlıcan şakşuka.
Perhaps the best-known Turkish eggplant dishes are imam bayıldı (vegetarian) and karnıyarık (with minced meat). Roasted in its skin until charred, so the pulp can be removed and blended with other ingredients, such as lemon, tahini, and garlic, as in the Arab baba ghanoush and the similar Greek melitzanosalata. A mix of roasted eggplant, roasted red peppers, chopped onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, celery and spices is called zacuscă in Romania , and ajvar or pinjur in the Balkans.
A Spanish dish called escalivada in Catalonia calls for strips of roasted aubergine, sweet pepper, onion and tomato. In Andalusia, eggplant is mostly cooked thinly sliced, deep fried in olive oil and served hot with honey (“Berenjenas a la Cordobesa”). In the La Mancha region of central Spain (Don Quixote land!) a small eggplant is pickled in vinegar, paprika, olive oil and red peppers. The result is berenjena de Almagro, Ciudad Real. A Levantine specialty is Makdous, another pickling of eggplants, stuffed with red peppers and walnuts in olive oil. Eggplant can be hollowed out and stuffed with meat, rice, or other fillings, and then baked. In the Caucasus, for example, it is fried and stuffed with walnut paste to make nigvziani badrijani.
The brinjal is used in Indian cuisine in a variety of ways – cooked in sambar, a tamarind lentil stew in the South; in dalma in Odisha, in chutney or pickles. It is truly delicious when roasted, skinned mashed and cooked with onion and tomatoes into baigan bharta or a gojju, similar to the salata de vinete in Romania and begun pora in Bangladesh, Odisha and West Bengal in India, where the pulp of the vegetable is mixed with raw chopped shallot, green chilies, salt, fresh coriander and mustard oil. Sometimes fried tomatoes and deep-fried potatoes are also added.
In a dish called bharli vangi, brinjal is stuffed with ground coconut, peanuts, and masala (spices), and then cooked in oil. Or stuffed with spices and deep fried. Or just, made into a delicious Brinjal Curry with Capsicum as in the recipe below.
Nutrition and Health:
The brinjal or baingan is often thought of as ‘bae -gun’ or without any good aspects, ie nutritional benefits. This is a misconception, as a quick search online can show. Healthline, for example, lists out the health benefits and the mineral and vitamin content. However there are some health conditions where brinjal is kept out of the diet as it can have a negative impact.
The vegetable (fruit, actually) is low in calories and fats and carbohydrates and has good soluble fibre content. It does not have much of dietary fibre though. It has been used to control cholesterol. It may be able, along with other vegetables, to control diabetes and hypertension.
The Brinjal or eggplant has Vitamin C and some levels of many essential B-complex groups of vitamins – which are obtained only from external sources and used by the body cells for the metabolism of fat, protein and carbohydrates – such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and thiamin (vitamin B1), niacin (B3). It also contains minerals such as manganese (moderate levels), copper, iron and potassium (low levels).
Cancer and other disease fighting properties:
The colour of purple skin varieties is due to high levels of anthocyanin nasunin, and anti-oxidants that have potential health effects against cancer, ageing, inflammation, and neurological diseases. Brinjal may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
On then to my simple and delicious Brinjal Curry with Capsicum, tomato and fresh peas!
Brinjal Curry with Capsicum
- 2 cups eggplant brinjal slices - The curry will cook down to about 2/3 of its original volume or even lesser
- 1 tbsp Green peas - frozen or fresh
- 1/2 cup capsicum
- 1/2 cup tomato slices - red and firm
- 1/8 tsp Fenugreek seeds - methi
- 1/4 tsp Mustard seeds - rai
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 fresh chili - to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon salt - or to taste
- Variation: add sweet bell peppers of different colours, thinly sliced broccoli and shelled sweet peas. The total volume of other vegetables when sliced, should be about half or less of the volume of sliced raw brinjal.
- Slice the capsicum, tomato and brinjal into thin strips of similar length and thickness. Chop the chili or keep it at lengths of 1". I keep the chili long so that it can be easily removed before serving and nobody bites into it.
- Remove the peas from their pods and soak them in a little water, so that they cook without bursting when you add to the curry. Slice the brinjal last as they tend to discolour when cut. Use a stainless steel knife and sprinkle a little turmeric powder so that the slices do not immediately discolour.
- Heat oil in a frying pan, add mustard seeds so they sputter.
Add methi/ fenugreek seeds and sauté for 5 secs so they burst in the hot oil.
Scald the pieces of chilli.
Add the sliced vegetables all together and sauté for a few seconds. Drain the water from the peas, and add.
- If you have not added turmeric at the time of slicing the brinjal, add it now along with salt. Salt is to be added keeping in mind that the volume of vegetable shrinks to almost half the original volume.
- Cook on a low flame keeping the pan uncovered, for about 10 mins, stirring frequently, till the brinjal is cooked. The brinjal cooks fast and can easily burn at the base of the pan, so this is a curry that needs to be watched.
- Serve with roti or rice and dal or rasam. Makes a nice sandwich, wrap or quesadilla ( remove the pieces of chilli from the curry first!) with buttered bread, plain or grilled. You could add some cheese too.