There are different varieties of eggplants available in the supermarkets, each with a slightly different flavor and texture. Some of my favorite are: American globe, Italian, Indian, and Chinese.
The most common variety available in the U.S. supermarkets is the American globe with shiny dark purple skin. This is the largest species of the eggplants, weighing around a pound each. The flesh is white with scattered seeds that have the most concentration in the belly of the eggplant. This variety is good for the Eggplant Parmesan and dolmeh, which is a stuffed eggplant dish. When buying this variety, like all the other eggplants, make sure it is heavy for the size, firm to touch and has shiny smooth skin without any blemishes. If the eggplant feels soft to touch, it is not very fresh and will have a tan-colored flesh inside with a lot of seeds. Also there is a good chance that the flesh will have a bitter taste after cooking.
The Italian eggplant is 8-10 inches long with shiny dark purple skin. It has white flesh with very little seeds and perfect for dips, ratatouille, borani, and stews. The best place to shop for the Italian eggplant is the Middle Eastern supermarkets and some specialty supermarkets, though I have occasionally found them at Costco.
You can prolong the life of fresh Italian eggplants by 7-10 days at room temperature. If you’ve ever tried storing the eggplants in the fridge you’ve probably found out that the firm and shiny eggplants that you picked so carefully start developing soft brown spots within a few days and when this happens the flesh also turns brown and bitter.
To use the over the counter method: Select a plastic or glass bowl large enough to hold the eggplants standing up with the green tips down. Fill up the bowl with enough cold water to cover the green tips. The eggplants stay fresh as the day that you bought them using this method for 7-10 days. I change the water once during this time around the 5th day. The green tips sitting in water will turn soft and need to be discarded before cooking the eggplants, but most recipes call for this anyway!
The Indian eggplants are small globes with shinny reddish purple skin with some light purple streaks. They also have white flesh inside with a moderate amount of seeds. I use these in different stews such as Khoresh Bademjan and sometimes add a few to my Gheymeh. Their size varies between 2-4 inches in diameter. The larger size can be used to make personal size stuffed eggplant, dolmeh. These eggplants are sold at farmers markets, specialty supermarkets, as well as Middle Eastern and Asian markets.
The Chinese eggplants are light purple in color, more slender than the other varieties and vary from 10-15 inches in length. This eggplant has a sweeter taste, hardly any seeds and cooks faster and is more delicate than the other eggplants. I use the Chinese eggplants for dishes that require more velvety texture, such as Kashke Bademjan.
THE METHOD FOR BAKING EGGPLANTS:
If you have ever attempted to fry eggplants, you know that they are the oil guzzlers of the vegetable world. I used to fry eggplants for different Persian and other recipes, but over the past few years I have been baking them when a recipe calls for fried eggplants with great success. The baking method is much healthier than frying, uses less oil, and works for most recipes. The baking directions are essentially the same for all the varieties that I have mentioned above. I have used the Italian and the Indian eggplants below.
Preheat the oven to 450 F, center rack. Remove and discard the stems. Peel the eggplants and cut them in half, or 1-inch slices if you’re using the American globes.
Add the slices to a large bowl and toss with 1/4 -1/3 cup vegetable oil, just enough to barely cover both sides with oil.
Cover a large baking sheet with an aluminum foil, letting it extend on all sides to catch any possible splatter. Drizzle one tablespoon vegetable oil on the aluminum foil. Arrange the eggplants on the foil in a single layer.
Bake for 20-25 minutes in the preheated oven. The eggplants are ready when you can easily poke them with a fork. Switch the oven temperature to broil setting, with the baking sheet still on the center rack, and broil for 2 minutes to brown the tops.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and cool the baked eggplants in the pan for 20 minutes. The eggplants will easily separate from the aluminum foil with a spatula once cooled. If you try to remove them before they cool, they will stick to the foil. Use the baked eggplants right away or refrigerate for up to 2 days. At this stage the eggplant also freezes very well in an airtight freezer proof container for a month. When ready to use, defrost at room temperature for 30-45 minutes and use in the recipes.
Preheat oven to 450 F. Center rack setting. Line one shallow baking dish with aluminum foil extending on all sides to catch the possible oil splatter.
Peel the eggplants and cut them in half lengthwise. In a large bowl add the eggplants and about 1/3 cup vegetable oil. Toss to coat.
Drizzle 1 tablespoon vegetable oil on the prepared baking sheet.
Arrange the eggplants in a single layer on the foil. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the eggplants are soft when poked with a fork.
Without removing the baking sheet, set the temperature to broil and continue broiling for about 2 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set aside to cool for 20 minutes. The eggplants will easily separate from the aluminum foil once cooled.
I have used Baked Eggplants in these recipes:
Thank you very much for your information . I Love Persian food but it has a lot of frying and your advise is very helpful !
Thank you so much for your comment. You will love how light and delicious the eggplants turn out using the oven technique.
Brisa (IG patisseriesaba) says
Thank you; I love your technique descriptions! I made 2 trays of baked eggplant with both Italian and American globe. One one tray, I brushed the eggplant with beaten egg white (which I thought might give a less oily result) and the other I did not. For the rest, I followed your instructions used 1/3 cup oil to coat each set of eggplant. The both came out lovely, and to my great surprise, the one WITHOUT egg white is a bit tastier AND slightly less oily. From now on, I’ll be setting aside a day to fry onions, and bake /roast eggplant and fry or roast zucchini and keep these things in the freezer to use at a moment’s notice. By the way, are you familiar with the (Azeri??) dish shekampare? It is a stuffed eggplant with tomato sauce that I made once several years ago following a recipe from my MIL. I’d love to know if you have a recipe for this because I am sure your instructions will be more clear and easier to follow. 😉
Dear Brisa, I’m happy you like the technique and the flavor of the baked eggplants. I have a shekam pareh (Garni Yarikh in Azeri) recipe https://persianmama.com/garniyarikh-azeri-split-belly-eggplant/ I hope you like it. As always, I appreciate your comments!
I am making the comment here under eggplants but really my sentiments apply to your entire site.. One of THE BEST cooking blogs and for SURE THE BEST PERSIAN cooking blog. Beautiful and relevant photos, helpful links that take you to step by step prep (like these eggplants), well written and detailed directions. I am so happy I found you Homa jaan and thank you for providing such great recipes for those of us who chose to ignore our moms when they said “ beyaa inja ashpazee irany as man yaaad beger – pashimoon mishiah” LOL.
Bahareh jan; it is so wonderful to have you here my dear! Your comment just made my day; thank you! It is great to hear that you find my work helpful. I didn’t listen to my mom either, and I was pashimoon 😉 so I wrote down her recipes whenever I went back home, and now I share them with other Persian food lovers.
Pat Partovi says
I’m not a big fan of khoresht e bademjan because it is too oily for me, but I was given some eggplants from a neighbor’s garden so I decided to take a look at your recipe. I am so pleased to see that you bake the eggplant instead of frying it and I will give it a try today. I also still have unripe grapes in my garden so I will use those and let you know how it turns out. Thank you for all your wonderful recipes and cooking tips.
Dear Pat, thanks for your comment and I hope you will enjoy khoresh bademjan now that you will not have to fry the eggplants. It will taste incredible with garden fresh eggplants and ghooreh! I will look forward to your feedback. Take care and have a great weekend
Ferryal Lackey says
Great recipe for oven baked/fried eggplants. However, I made a few minor changes. Drizzled vegetable oil on the eggplants in the same baking dish that recipe called for which was covered with non-stick foil (saving a step of dieting another bowl). For color added 1/4 teaspoons of Turmeric and paprika, messaging the spices on the eggplants. Did not add any more oil to the pan “as who needs more fat”, instead sprayed the top of the eggplants with cooking spray. Baked as directed & broiled for 10 min. for more color.
Thanks for sharing your method with us dear Ferryal 🙂
Al Robinson says
What does “set temperature to broil” mean?
Hi Al, after the eggplants are baked and are fork tender, turn off the bake function and turn on the broil function in your oven. This is to brown the top of the eggplants sightly. Happy cooking 🙂
So very grateful for the roasting recipe and especially for the storage ideas! I love eggplant and now I can make them last fresh longer and can freeze them. I found these instructions as I was getting ready to try your Vegetarian Khoresh Bademjan which I am excited to try. Thank you very much and best wishes!
Glad to hear that Mesa, I do this all the time and it saves me a lot of time! Let me know how you like the vegetarian khoresh bademjan! Happy cooking, take care 🙂
Thank you for providing these detailed instructions and for your note about freezing the eggplant. I ended up with more eggplant than I could use and realized I could use these instructions to freeze it for make Kohresh Bademjan in the future. It’s going to go a lot more quickly with the frozen eggplant! I enjoy making Persian food and your recipes are easy to follow. Thank you!
It is a pleasure Michelle! You’re right, this technique saves a lot of time and the baked eggplants keeps very well in the freezer! Take care and keep in touch 🙂
Looking forward to trying one of your recipes tonight! I just wondered if you ever salt your aubergines before cooking? This is what I usually do but would love to know whether you think this step is worthwhile or not!
Thanks in advance!
Hi Charlotte, I never salt my eggplants and my eggplant dishes are never bitter. In my experience the eggplants turn spongy, brown and possibly bitter when they have spent too much time in transit or the fridge. It is just one of those time consuming rituals that is not necessary. I would love to read your feedback. Have fun cooking.
Anthocyanins are what make eggplant bitter. You have two ways to get rid of the bitterness. Cut it in thin slices, salt, and let it sit for an hour or so to soak out some of the bitter juices, rinse some of the salt off and fry or bake it. Or you can cook it twice in the same recipe. Such as is done in this recipe, roasting the eggplants in the oven, and then later simmering them in the stew mixture. Cooking twice breaks down the bitter compounds.