All hail, the mighty aubergine.

What is it

A purple, egg-shaped fruit, eaten as a vegetable.

In season?

They’re available all year round but at their best from late May through mid-October. Look for smooth, glossy aubergines with bright green stalks–a fresh aubergine should feel firm.


Pop aubergines in your salad drawer of the fridge and they’ll keep for a couple of days. Slightly aged aubergines are perfect for charring–cook over an open flame or under the grill to make the inside flesh nice and soft. As the skin is essentially cremated, it doesn’t matter if it’s looking slightly wrinkly or bruised.

All hail the mighty aubergine

Did you know that aubergines (eggplants, to some) are technically berries? They come in many different forms: bulbous, purple-zeppelin types, common to the Mediterranean; mini and more ivory-toned from the US and Australia; or much smaller varieties grown in Thailand. At their core, they’re all pretty similar, with the same mildly smoky flavour and a texture that is spongy when raw but soft when cooked.

How to cook with aubergines

For us, aubergines are an endless source of joy. Tucked into a parmigiana, layered between a rich bread of tomato sauce and salty cheese; stuffed with paneer, paired with a rich coconut dal; or even just smothered in yoghurt and dusted with za’atar. The aubergine never stops surprising us–but there are just a few basics you need to know before you start cooking with it. Rule number one: they always need slightly more oil than you think to get that perfect texture.

Salting? What's the deal?

There are two main reasons for salt: first, Aubergines can be bitter so salt breaks down the cells to draw out that bitterness, and second, salt draws out water before cooking–less water means less oil absorbed when cooking.

Roast it

If you’re roasting whole, always pierce some holes: if you don’t, steam builds up inside the aubergine and the pressure can cause it to burst.

If you’re roasting aubergine halves, use a knife to score lines length and width ways into the aubergine – around 1 cm deep. Set your oven to around 200C, and roast for 40 minutes. Once roasted, they are soft and preserve their shape and texture, without turning to mush.

Burn it

To unlock the smoky potential and a creamy texture, you want to blister and blacken the skin. It may sound odd, but as the outside chars, the inside cooks slowly until it collapses. Scoop out this flesh and you’ve got a silky vegetable that’s both sweet and smokey. Far from the aubergine, you may know… and hate.

Stuff it

Most recipes require you to roast, hollow out, and then stuff. In Italy, they call them tabacchiera di melanzane—direct translation: aubergine snuff box.

“Chef, what do you think is the best way to cook with aubergine?”

Both Milli and Michal said roasting for both ease and result. But Chaya opted for burning: it transforms a slightly bland vegetable into something sweet, smokey and almost custard-like.