A study of aubergine

Aubergine, brinjal, eggplant: all names for the same thing which change depending on where you live. The Canadians and Australians call this spongy, purple bulb an eggplant, while in the UK it is referred to as an aubergine, and here in South Africa we call it a brinjal.

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In fact, it’s not a vegetable at all, but rather a fruit! It’s a plant species that is part of the Nightshade family. Originally domesticated from the bitter thorn, today it is used extensively across the globe. Not necessarily celebrated for its nutritionally low content, but rather as a carrier of great flavours.

This recipe is Chef Ryan’s ode to an aubergine. He shows how diversely it can be used, but also celebrates this fruit in all its own glory. There are quite a few steps and it is a bit more challenging than the usually treats we share, but worth trying and you can have fun with the plating – you can let your creative imagination go wild.


Deep Fried Aubergine Balls

  • 1 medium Carrot
  • 1 medium Aubergine
  • 1 medium White Onion
  • ½ cup (125ml) Drained Tinned Chickpeas
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. (15ml) Butter
  • 1 cup (250ml) Cream
  • 10ml Chopped Parsley
  • 1 cup (250ml) Cake Flour
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 cup (250ml) Bread Crumbs

Charred Aubergine Mousse:

  • 1 large Aubergine

Baked Tahini Aubergine:

  • 1 medium Aubergine
  • 2 clove Fresh Garlic, Minced
  • 2 Tbsp. (30ml) Tahini Paste
  • 2 Tbsp. (30ml) Olive Oil


For the Deep Fried Aubergine Balls:

  1. Dice the carrot, aubergine and onion and place in a saucepan
  2. Add the garlic clove, chickpeas and butter
  3. Place a ½ cup (125ml) of cold water into the pot and place over a medium heat
  4. Simmer until the carrots are cooked
  5. Once the carrots are cooked, add the cream and turn up the heat
  6. Boil the mixture until the liquid has reduced by half
  7. Stain the reduced mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Push as much moister from the vegetables through the sieve as possible – save the strained liquid!
  8. Place the strained vegetables into a bowl, add the chopped parsley and season to taste
  9. Mix about ½ cup (125ml) of breadcrumbs into the vegetables so that the mixture binds together. Test by squashing some mixture in your hand, it should not crumble or fall apart. Add more breadcrumbs if needed
  10. Roll the vegetable mixture into small balls and place in the freezer to become firm
  11. Get 3 bowls ready – 1 with the cake flour, 1 with the egg (beaten) and 1 with the breadcrumbs
  12. Once the vegetable balls are firm to the touch, coat them first in the flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs
  13. Deep fry in sunflower oil at 180ᵒC until the balls are light brown in colour

For the Aubergine Mousse:

  1. Place the aubergine over an open flame and char the skin on all sides
  2. Once the whole aubergine is charred, place it in a sealable plastic bag
  3. Close the bag tightly and let the aubergine sweat until it has cooled down
  4. Cut the cooled aubergine in half and scrape out the flesh
  5. Place the aubergine flesh and the liquid that you saved from straining the aubergine vegetable balls into a jug and blend with a stick blender until the mixture is smooth
  6. Season to taste

For the Tahini Aubergine:

  • Slice the aubergines into thick 1 cm steaks
  • Place on a tray and salt both sides. Set aside
  • In a bowl, combine the tahini paste, olive oil and minced garlic
  • Rinse the aubergines under cold water and pat dry with kitchen paper towel
  • Place the aubergine steaks on a baking tray and spread the tahini mixture over the top
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Splash ½ cup (125ml) water over the aubergines and then wrap the tray with tinfoil
  • Bake at 160ᵒC for 20 minutes

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