Brinjal, Aubergine Or Eggplant? Know The Fascinating History Of This Powerhouse Vegetable

Brinjal, Aubergine Or Eggplant? Know The Fascinating History Of This Powerhouse Vegetable

Ever wondered what ‘baingan’ is called in English? Some say brinjal, while chefs and food experts prefer aubergine, adding sophistication to this humble veggie. Others opt for eggplant, leaving us utterly perplexed with multiple names for the same veggie. Teaching kids the English names of veggies becomes even more challenging. But fear not, we’ll take you on a journey to uncover the origins and history of this versatile vegetable and reveal the secrets behind its many names. Let’s delve into the captivating story of baingan.

What Makes Baingan A Popular Vegetable Across The Globe?

Believe it or not, baingan is considered exotic in the world of global gastronomy. In fact, according to some theories, it is also referred to as the ‘king of vegetables’ due to its rich purple colour and bulky texture, which also makes the vegetable a perfect veg substitute for various meat-based dishes. You will find baingan being widely used in countless recipes in Middle Eastern, Asian and some European countries including France and Italy. Alongside its culinary versatility, baingan is great for your health too. This powerhouse vegetable contains high amount of fibre, antioxidants, and minerals and is low in calories and sodium, making it a perfect ingredient to aid digestion, gut-health, weight loss, health blood pressure levels amongst others.

What Is The Origin Of Baigan | Where Was It First Found:

You would be fascinated to know that baingan is considered a native to India. As per historians, somewhere around 5000 years ago, a group of people migrated from Southeast Asia to the Chota Nagpur Plateau and domesticated a spiny bitter fruit into a delicious vegetable and named it ‘vartaku’. Food Historian KT Achaya, in his book named ‘A Historical Dictionary Of Indian Food’, explained that it was then called ‘vatingana’ in Sanskrit and later Bengal made it ‘begun’ for them and in Hindi it got the name ‘baingan’. And that’s how the vegetable got popularised across India.


Photo Credit: iStock

Brinjal Vs. Aubergine Vs. Eggplant: History Behind The English Names Of Baigan:

With popularity, the vegetable grabbed attention of the Buddhist monks who then went on travelling to the world along with the vegetable. According to multiple historical theories, it then went to Persia where baingan was named ‘badinjan’, and then the Arabs referred to it as ‘al-badinjan’. The Arabs then took it to Spain where the Catalans named the vegetable ‘al-berjinia’. It then became what we know as ‘aubergine’ in French. Eventually ‘aubergine’ became a part of the English terms and terminology.
However, the Spanish people called the vegetable ‘berenjena’, which was then taken by the neighbouring country Portuguese, who named it ‘beringela’. Finally, after touring the world, the mighty baingan again came back to India along with the Portuguese, where it finally got the name ‘brinjal’.
Now, you might be wondering, why is it called eggplant?! Well, that has quite a funny story to it! The white variety of the vegetable, which are somewhat round and small in shape, looked much like eggs hanging on tree. That’s how it got popularised as eggplant, which now is majorly referred to the small-sized baingan.


Photo Credit: iStock

Now that you know all about aubergine, brinjal and eggplant, use the terms appropriately and garner applause from friends and family on a dinner table.
Meanwhile, here are some of our favourite baingan recipes for you to try.

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