There are white and green Brinjals too. Are the purple ones known by some special name?


4 Answers 4


In Britain (and France), the large purple varieties are known as aubergines. Other (pale and/or small) varieties aren't usually found outside of Asian supermarkets, where I imagine they are still referred to as brinjal.

The name 'eggplant' is used in the US, Canada, and the Antipodes, mainly because the lighter varieties are more common there, which arguably have the colour of eggshell.

They are, however, all just different varieties of the same plant, like yellow and red tomatoes.

  • In bigger cities Asian supermarkets are common, so the smaller varieties are fairly easy to get hold of. Personally I hate all varieties, so I've never really looked! Eggplants in general are not particularly popular here in the UK; they are more popular in the Eastern Mediterranean I believe. Jul 12, 2011 at 8:18
  • Could be! I do like Kashmiri curries. Every eggplant I've ever had has been slimy and bitter, however. Jul 12, 2011 at 8:39
  • I used to live near an Indian restaurant specialising in Kashmiri cuisine. Not sure how authentic it was but it was different from the usual Indian food you find here, which I believe is more Bangladeshi/Pakistani influenced. Jul 12, 2011 at 9:09
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    I'm surprised to hear you say that lighter varieties of eggplant are more common in the US. All I've ever seen here in mainstream grocery stores is purple eggplant.
    – Cascabel
    Jul 12, 2011 at 15:33
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    No I'm from the antipodes and you assume wrong. We call them eggplants and they are mostly large with a dark purple to black colour. The smaller and lighter coloured ones seem to be a new and exotic addition with the recent foodies/cooking craze. My assumption is that we call them eggplant because of their shape (-: Jul 13, 2011 at 9:17

They are all known as eggplant.

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    @Anisha Kaul The point is that people make no difference. This is very usual - people lump stuff together based on what their language tells them. Consider cherries and sour cherries. For me, they are totally different fruit, like raspberry and blackberry. People who grew up speaking English are dimly aware that they taste a bit different, like yellow and red tomatoes, but tend to see them as the same thing.
    – rumtscho
    Jul 12, 2011 at 10:28
  • @rumtscho : It sounds like you've read Women, Fire and Dangerous Things. There's a whole field of study where they try to see how babies (not yet understanding language) react to different things that might be lumped into the same concept in one language but are multiple concepts in another. (they show 'em something 'til they get bored, then show them another, etc, and see if they consider the new thing to be interesting or not)
    – Joe
    Jul 14, 2011 at 0:27

In the UK they are all known as Aubergines and in the US as Eggplant as they are all fruiting bodies of the same family of plants, the nightshades. The ones that are in common use in Europe tend to be the larger purple and white varieties as these are the ones that have been cultivated in that continent. With the spread of the cuisines of different countries into other parts of the globe, ingredients used in these cuisines have recently become more readily available outside their native countries and are called by names that distinguish them from their native equivalents. Personally, I buy what I know as Indian Aubergines and Thai Aubergines in my local Asian supermarket, these are imported from these countries and are not grown locally. I am grateful to know that the ones that are imported from Kashmir are known in that country as Brinjal. I would add that they all have a particular flavour/texture and are all of particular use in the cuisines of their respective native countries, after all, you wouldn't make a Moussaka with Brinjal.

  • Sorry, I meant to say "I am grateful to know that the ones that I buy as Indian Aubergine and which are imported from Inia are known in Kashmir as Brinjal"
    – Eric
    Jul 13, 2011 at 8:13

In Toronto, we call everything in that family "Eggplant" (or Aubergines if you're trying to look cultured.)

The most common variety is the the large dark purple/black one. The second variety is the long skinny purple one, which we call "Chinese Eggplant".

Then there are the small ones, about the size of a pear or even smaller, which we call "Baby Eggplant" the default being the dark purple/black colour.

These distinctions really based on size and shape. Any further differentiation is done by pre-pending an adjective. "I'd like a light purple baby eggplant.

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