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Indian eggplants are small and oval, averaging 5-7 centimeters depending on maturity. This egg-shaped fruit has a glossy, smooth, and medium-thick dark purple outer skin. The inner flesh is firm, crisp, and creamy white with a few, small edible seeds. When cooked, Indian eggplants offer a mild flavor with sweet notes and a creamy texture.
Indian eggplants are available year-round, with peak season in the spring.
Indian eggplants, botanically classified as Solanum melongena, belong to the Solanaceae, or nightshade family along with potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers. Also known as Ratna and Brinjal, Indian eggplants are often labeled as baby eggplants in commercial markets due to their small size. Indian eggplants are similar in appearance to the popular Italian variety, but they are smaller in size and much sweeter in flavor.
Indian eggplants are an excellent source of fiber and contain some vitamin B6, vitamin K, and potassium. They also contain anthocyanins, which has antioxidant properties.
Indian eggplants are best suited for cooked applications such as grilling, roasting, baking, and stir-frying. They can be sliced and grilled and used in pasta dishes, chopped and used as a meat substitute in stir-fries, or dipped in breadcrumbs and fried. Indian eggplants are also used in many curry-based dishes and are ideal for stuffing because of their small size. Indian eggplants pair well with aromatics such as garlic, onion, and ginger, herbs such as basil and mint, spices such as cumin, coriander, and turmeric, and also honey, balsamic, goat cheese, mozzarella, and tomatoes. Indian eggplants will keep up to three days when stored in a cool and dry place.
Eggplants have been a staple ingredient in Indian cuisine since ancient times and India is the second largest producer of eggplant in the world next to China. The majority of Indian households use eggplant in home cooking regardless of economic and social status and also use it in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. Eggplants are popularly used in curry-based dishes such as Bhurtha and Baingan Bharta, where the eggplants are typically chopped or mashed with other vegetables and served with naan, rice, and dips.
Indian Eggplants are believed to be native to India and have been around for thousands of years. They then spread to Europe in the 13th century and eventually to the New World. Today Indian eggplants can be found at farmers markets and specialty grocers in the United States, Europe, and Asia.
Recipes that include Indian Eggplant. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Mark Bittman||Stuffed Indian Eggplant|
|Cook with Manali||Eggplant Curry with Coconut and Peanuts|