Tag Archives: eggplant

Brinjal and Cucumber Sandwich

Another hot day…another food-sick day (instead of home-sick!) and seeing as I am well into brinjals (aubergines or eggplants) at the moment I thought I would try this recipe from Saveur.com today.

An earthy combination of fried aubergine, tea-steeped hard-boiled eggs, tahini, parsley, amba (a mango chutney/relish), and cucumber salad goes into this vegetarian sandwich, which is based on a traditional Shabbat breakfast of Iraqi Jews.

I was brought up in the Middle East for 13 years and thus have a great love of Middle Eastern food. You can honestly wake me up in the middle of the night for some home-made houmous, tabbouleh and warm Lebanese or Turkish bread…but I’ll save that for another post!

The ingredients for a Brinjal & Cucumber Sandwich:

  • The peel of 1 large red onion
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
  • 7 tbsp. oil (vegetable)
  • 1 1/2 lbs. large brinjal/aubergine, cut crosswise into 1/4″-thick slices
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 small cucumbers, unpeeled, finely chopped
  • 1 small tomato, cored and finely chopped
  • The remainder of the red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp. fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 tbsp. tahini
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped and mashed into a paste with a little salt
  • 4 pitas, warmed
  • Amba (mango) chutney, for serving
  • 1/4 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves

Eggplant and Cucumber Salad Sandwich

Photo Credit: André Baranowski


1. Place tea bags and onion peel in a large saucepan with 8 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to lowest setting, add eggs, and cover; let eggs steep until they’ve darkened in color, about 1 hour.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large cast- iron skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat until oil is shimmering. Season eggplant with salt. Working in batches, add eggplant and cook, flipping once, until golden and very soft, 3–4 minutes. Transfer eggplant to paper towels and set aside.

3. In a small bowl, combine the chopped cucumber, tomato, onion, 1 tbsp. lemon juice, and olive oil; season cucumber salad with salt and pepper and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the remaining lemon juice, tahini, garlic, and 5 tbsp. ice water. Whisk ingredients until creamy and season with salt; set tahini sauce aside.

4. To serve, slice off the top quarter of the pita breads and spread some of the tahini mixture on the inside of each pita. Put about 7 slices of eggplant into each pita along with one egg. Add some of the cucumber salad, top with some of the amba chutney, and stuff some of the parsley into each pita. Drizzle the top of each sandwich with the remaining tahini sauce.


Awesome Aubergines & Beautiful Brinjals

To Brits they’re the exotic aubergine, to Americans and Australians the eggplant  and to Indians and Sri Lankans the brinjal – most think it’s a vegetable but it’s actually a berry, and you’ll find it in an array of global cuisines, for good reason.

Awesome aubergines & beautiful brinjals
Awesome aubergines & beautiful brinjals

Native to India and Sri Lanka, aubergines have been cultivated around the world and come in many different varieties: in Europe and North America the most recognised is the large, oval-shaped pendulous type with deep purple skin; in Asia and India a wide range is available – expect to find round ones, long, slim ones – as well as miniature varieties – in white, yellow, green and shades of purple. Others are two-tone, some are striped.

It was once believed that aubergines, like tomatoes, potatoes and chilli peppers, were poisonous because they belong to the nightshade family; some people do have a bad reaction to eating these foods, but most suffer no ill effects.

Aubergines are actually botanically classed as a berry, not a vegetable; they contain many small, edible seeds, which have a slightly bitter taste. They thrive in the sun, so they available all year in Sri Lanka but the best European crop appears in August.

Aubergine dishes are often associated with warmer climes; they feature heavily in Indian and North African cooking. The meaty, creamy flesh has proved so versatile that it appears in many other cuisines and it makes a great staple for vegetarian dishes. Famous aubergine dishes include ratatouille (France), moussaka (Greece), and baba ghanoush (Middle East).

Nutritional content and health benefits

Aubergines are a good source of fibre, folic acid and potassium. The skin contains anthocyanins, which are high in antioxidants, which can help the body fight off illness. Research also shows them to be effective in treating high levels of cholesterol. On the down side natural health practioners believe they can aggravate arthritis.

Choosing and cooking aubergines

Choose aubergines that feel weighty, with smooth, blemish-free skin and unwithered green stalks. They bruise easily so should be transported with care, and will keep in the fridge or a cool dark place for a few days.

You have probably heard it is recommended to salt aubergines before cooking to remove excess moisture and reduce their often-bitter taste; this isn’t as necessary as it once was – modern aubergines are less bitter but salting can help to reduce the generous amount of oil aubergines absorb during the cooking process.

To salt, cut into thick slices, sprinkle liberally with good quality salt and stand in a colander for 30 minutes, then rinse thoroughly and pat dry with kitchen towel.

Aubergines are great barbecued, fried, griddled and roasted. Here is a great aubergine/brinjal sandwich recipe!

See below for an authentic Sri Lankan recipe.

Aubergine facts

  • Aubergines are known by Americans, Canadians, Australians and Kiwis as eggplants because some 18th century varieties that settlers cultivated were round and white, resembling birds’ eggs.
  • Aubergines contain more nicotine than any other foodstuff; however, you would have to eat 20lbs (about 10 kilogrammes) in one sitting to have the same effect as one cigarette.
  • Globally, more than 4 million acres are used to cultivate aubergines.

Recipe – Sri Lankan Brinjal Moju (Aubergine accompaniment (like a spicy pickle) to Rice & Curry)


Brinjal moju
Brinjal moju
  • 5 medium aubergines – cut into strips (like chips/french fries)
  • 3-5 bombay onions or 10 small red onions or 10 shallots
  • 3-5 small green chillies- diagonally cut in the middle (depends on your HEAT tolerance!)
  • 10 cloves of finely chopped (or ground) garlic
  • Ginger (about a two inch piece – ground)
  • 2 tbsp of crushed dried red chillies
  • 1/3 cup of vinegar (any)
  • 3 tsp of black mustard seed (ground)
  • 3-4 full tsp sugar (according to taste)
  • 2 sprigs of curry leaves
  • 2 cloves (ground)
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil to deep fry (for an authentic Sri Lankan taste use coconut oil but less accustomed palates may prefer vegetable oil)


  1. Mix a tsp of salt and turmeric powder to the aubergine strips and let the mixture marinate for about 30 mins.  Heat oil to deep fry the strips until golden brown and crispy. Drain off the oil and keep aside.
  2. Fry the onions or shallots for about 2 mins and then fry the green chillies for about 30 seconds, drain and keep aside.
  3. Saute crushed red chillies for 15 seconds and fry curry leaves for about 15 seconds, drain and keep all fried stuff aside.
  4. Mix the ground garlic, ginger, mustard, cloves and sugar together with the vinegar and boil for 1 and 1/2 minutes until the sugar is dissolved.
  5. Take the mixture off the cooker and mix the rest of the fried items and add salt to taste. Mix well.
  6. Let it cool.
  7. Tip: This tastes better the next day!!