Aubergine Variety

Appears in
New Wave Asian: A Guide to the Southeast Asian Food Revolution

By Sri Owen

Published 2002

  • About

Everyone is familiar with the enormous shiny purple aubergines (Solanum melongena) that look like tubby Zeppelins, but these are, so to speak, the tip of the aubergine iceberg. Aubergines, originally called egg-plants by English gardeners who grew them as exotic ornaments (and this is still what they are called in the USA), can be found in Southeast Asia in many shapes, sizes and colours.

The smallest are pea aubergines (S. torvum), which are actually about the size of large peas or small cherries. Other aubergines, which are nearly all cultivars of S. melongena, may be globular, flattened globes, egg-shaped, or more or less club-shaped. In colour they can be white, green, yellow or purple, with shades ranging from light to intense, and with whites and greens often fading delicately into each other. These last are often called apple aubergines.