Brinjal


Brinjal (Solanum melongena), also known as eggplant or aubergine, is an easily cultivated plant belonging to the family Solanaceae.1 Its fruit is high in nutrition and commonly consumed as a vegetable. The fruit and other parts of the plant are used in traditional medicine.2

Origin and distribution
Wild brinjal can be found growing in Malaysia and India. Solanum insanum, a prickly variety of the plant, is mostly found in the dry hills of West Bengal, India. Similarly, some yellow-fruit varieties of the plant can be found growing wild in Malaya.3 Brinjal was first domesticated in India.4 The Persians then introduced it to Africa from India while the Arabs introduced it to Spain. It presumably spread from Spain to the rest of Europe.5 Today, many varieties of brinjal can be found growing throughout the warmer parts of the world.6


Description
Brinjal is a rather small plant that grows up to 1.5 m.7 Brinjal is classified as a herb because of its non-woody stem.8 Its simple leaves are oblong to oval, slightly lobed, with its underside a paler green than the upper surface. Both leaves and stem are covered with fine hairs. Its flowers sprout singly or in small clusters from the leaf axils. Individual flowers are star-shaped, light purple in colour and have short stalks. There are five stamens attached to the corolla tube and a single superior ovary.9

Its fruits are berries with many seeds10 and are either long or round and vary in colour according to the variety: white, orange, green, purple or black.11 It is a perennial and fruits all year round.12


Usage and potential
Food
Brinjal fruits are commonly considered as vegetables.13 They are cooked in various ways such as baking, barbecuing, frying or pickling. They can also be pureed, flavoured, and used as a dip or chutney as in Mediterranean and Indian cuisines. In Indian cuisine, they are used in curries and even made into soufflés. The cut fruits are typically soaked in cold salted water before cooking to avoid discoloration and to remove its mild bitterness.14

Medicine
In traditional Chinese medicine, all parts of the plant are used to stop intestinal bleeding. The fruit of the plant is also used as an antidote for mushroom poisoning. In Indochina, parts of the plant are used as a purgative.15 In traditional Malay medicine, the ashes of the fruit are used in dry, hot poultices to treat haemorrhoids. To treat ulcers, the root is pounded and applied inside the nostrils. The Amboinese take the juice of the root of a wild variety of the plant to ease a difficult labour. Arabs believe that the fruit has high “heating” properties that in turn cause melancholia and madness. For this reason, Malay and Indian women do not consume brinjal for the first 40 days after giving birth.16


Other uses
The people of the Bera River place the prickly stem of the brinjal plant at the threshold of a house where their first rice harvest is stored as a “protective” measure.17

Variant names
Common name: Brinjal, eggplant.18
Scientific nameSolanum melongena.19
Malay nameTerong manis (sweet brinjal), terong china (Chinese brinjal), terong ungu (purple brinjal), terong rapohterong puteh (white brinjal), terong biru (blue brinjal), terong hijau (green brinjal).20
Tamil nameKatirikai.21
Other names: Guinea squash, apple-of-love, garden egg, gully bean, melanzana, melongene, pea apple, pea aubergine, poor-man's-caviar, susumber, terong.22



Author

Naidu Ratnala Thulaja



References
1. Kew Royal Botanic Gardens. (n.d.). Solanum Melongena (Aubergine). Retrieved August 12, 2016, from The Kew, Royal Botanic Gardens website: http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/plants-fungi/solanum-melongena-aubergine
2. Wee, Y. C. (1992). A guide to medicinal plants. Singapore: Singapore Science Centre, p. 140. (Call no.: RSING 581.634095957 WEE)
3. Burkill, I. H. (2002). A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Kuala Lumpur: Ministry of Agriculture Malaysia, p. 2081. (Call no.: RSING 634.9095951 BUR) 
4. Polunin, I. (1987). Plants and flowers of Singapore. Singapore: Times editions, p. 148. (Call no.: RSING 581.95957 POL)
5. Burkill, I. H. (2002). A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Kuala Lumpur: Ministry of Agriculture Malaysia, p. 2081. (Call no.: RSING 634.9095951 BUR) 
6. Kew Royal Botanic Gardens. (n.d.). Solanum Melongena (Aubergine). Retrieved August 12, 2016, from The Kew, Royal Botanic Gardens website: http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/plants-fungi/solanum-melongena-aubergine
7. Polunin, I. (1987). Plants and flowers of Singapore. Singapore: Times editions, p. 148. (Call no.: RSING 581.95957 POL)
8. Wee, Y. C. (1992). A guide to medicinal plants. Singapore: Singapore Science Centre, p. 140. (Call no.: RSING 581.634095957 WEE)
9. Kwok, P. K. P. (1986). A guide to the Singapore Science Centre Ecogarden. Singapore: Singapore Science Centre, p. 102. (Call no.: RSING 581.95957 KWO); Polunin, I. (1987). Plants and flowers of Singapore. Singapore: Times editions, p. 148. (Call no.: RSING 581.95957 POL)
10. Kwok, P. K. P. (1986). A guide to the Singapore Science Centre Ecogarden. Singapore: Singapore Science Centre, p. 102. (Call no.: RSING 581.95957 KWO).
11. Polunin, I. (1987). Plants and flowers of Singapore. Singapore: Times editions, p. 148. (Call no.: RSING 581.95957 POL); Kew Royal Botanic Gardens. (n.d.). Solanum Melongena (Aubergine). Retrieved August 12, 2016, from The Kew, Royal Botanic Gardens website: http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/plants-fungi/solanum-melongena-aubergine
12. Polunin, I. (1987). Plants and flowers of Singapore. Singapore: Times editions, p. 148. (Call no.: RSING 581.95957 POL)
13. Kwok, P. K. P. (1986). A guide to the Singapore Science Centre Ecogarden. Singapore: Singapore Science Centre, p. 102. (Call no.: RSING 581.95957 KWO)
14. Ware, M. (5 September 2015). Eggplant (Aubergine): Health benefits, Nutritional information. Retrieved August 12, 2016, from Medical News Today website: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/279359.php?page=2
15. Wee, Y. C. (1992). A guide to medicinal plants. Singapore: Singapore Science Centre, p. 140. (Call no.: RSING 581.634095957 WEE)
16. Burkill, I. H. (2002). A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Kuala Lumpur: Ministry of Agriculture Malaysia, p. 2081. (Call no.: RSING 634.9095951 BUR) 
17. Burkill, I. H. (2002). A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Kuala Lumpur: Ministry of Agriculture Malaysia, p. 2081. (Call no.: RSING 634.9095951 BUR) 
18. Wee, Y. C. (1992). A guide to medicinal plants. Singapore: Singapore Science Centre, p. 140. (Call no.: RSING 581.634095957 WEE)
19. Wee, Y. C. (1992). A guide to medicinal plants. Singapore: Singapore Science Centre, p. 140. (Call no.: RSING 581.634095957 WEE)
20. Burkill, I. H. (2002). A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Kuala Lumpur: Ministry of Agriculture Malaysia, p. 2081. (Call no.: RSING 634.9095951 BUR) 
21. Asia Farming. (2015). Eggplant farming (brinjal) information guide. Retrieved August 12, 2016, from Asia Farming website: http://asiafarming.com/eggplant-farming
22. Purdue University. (2013). Solanum Melongena L. Retrieved August 12, 2016, from The Department of  Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Purdue University website: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/nexus/Solanum_melongena_nex.html



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history on the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Eggplant--Singapore
Plants
Science and technology>>Agriculture>>Horticulture>>Vegetables
Nature>>Plants

All Rights Reserved. National Library Board Singapore 2016.