Why you need eggplant...

Why you need eggplant...

LIVING IN THE KITCHEN

Why you need eggplant...

There is enough evidence to prove that including brinjal as a part of your diet is a smart choice, says Mala Ashok

Are you one of those people who hate brinjals? Your mother and grandmother have tried everything in their kitchen —  from Bhurtha to Vangi Bhath — and failed in their attempt to get you to eat brinjals. Try as they might, you have avoided this colourful vegetable which when cooked tends to get mushy.

Now your doctors may join forces with these mighty ladies.  Researchers have always contended that eating a variety of vegetables of different colours is good for health. The colours they advocated were red, orange, yellow, and dark green.  Now purple too has taken a prestigious position in this list.

New research by Canadian scientists in Canada’s agriculture and agri-food department has indicated that purple vegetables have higher levels of anti-oxidants.  Anti-oxidants have been proven to help reduce the risks of several diseases, including some cancers and even heart disease.

Dr Rong Cao of a Research Centre in Guelph, Ontario, Canada has suggested that vegetables higher in anthocyanins have a stronger level of antioxidant activity than other varieties of the same vegetables. Anthocyanins are the phytochemicals which create purple pigmentation in highly-pigmented vegetables. Antioxidants, as their names indicate, are believed to protect body cells from being damaged by oxidation.

The research team will now go on to study the effects of purple-coloured vegetables on blood sugar. As diabetes is a widespread disease in the country, the results of this research from Canada throw some light on the matter.

There has already been a study at the Guelph centre which showed that anthocyanins prevent enzymes such as alpha-glycosidase from metabolising sugar in the body. This explains the slow rate of glucose production, which in turn maintains blood sugar levels — critical for diabetics. More research in this direction is slated to continue through animal and human clinical trials.

However, there is, even now enough evidence to suggest that making purple vegetables a part of your diet regularly makes sense.

Enter the brinjals — this humble vegetable is very versatile in nature. Besides the above-mentioned Bhurtha and Vangi Bhath, every region of India has its own pet brinjal recipe.

If you want to experiment with continental recipes, you can find innumerable eggplant parmesan recipes on the Internet. In this context, all you need to type in is ‘baked eggplant recipes’ and hundreds of brinjal (eggplant) recipes will show up.  Most of these give you the caloric and fat contents too, so you can ensure your dish is healthy.

For those of us who want to retain a Asian flavour, I googled ‘vegetarian eggplant recipes’ and the ones that showed up included Spicy Schezuwan Eggplant, Thai Roasted Eggplant Salad and of course, Baba Ghannouj.

So, what’s stopping you? Go purple.Baba Ghannouj recipe

Ingredients: 1 large eggplant, 1 clove of garlic, half a cup of lemon juice (depending on taste), three tablespoons of tahini, a teaspoon salt, three teaspoons of olive oil.

For garnish: Two tablespoons of lemon juice, two teaspoons of olive oil

Method: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and bake the eggplant for 30 minutes, or until the outside is crisp and inside is soft. Cut open the eggplant and scoop out the flesh into a colander and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. Removing the excess liquid helps to eliminate a bitter flavour. Place the insides of the eggplant in a medium-sized bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix them together using a blender or a food processor. Pulse this mixture for about two minutes and and top it with lemon juice and olive oil. Other garnishes may also be added according to taste. Serve with warm or toasted bread or buns.

Tip: Baba Ghannouj always has to have olive oil on top for garnish. However, you can spice things up a bit by adding crushed red pepper, a dash of cumin, parsley or coriander.

DHNS

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