Eggplant is a plant species in the nightshade family Solanaceae. Most commonly, purple, the spongy, absorbent fruit, is used in several cuisines. Typically used as a vegetable in cooking, it is a berry by botanical definition.
As a member of the genus Solanum, it is related to the tomato, chili pepper, and potato, although those are of the New World while the eggplant is of the Old World. Like the tomato, its skin and seeds can be eaten, but, like the potato, it is usually eaten cooked.
Eggplant is used in the cuisines of many countries. In addition, due to its texture and bulk, it is sometimes used as a meat substitute in vegan and vegetarian cooking.
Eggplant can be steamed, stir-fried, pan-fried, deep-fried, barbecued, roasted, stewed, curried, or pickled. Many eggplant dishes are sauces made by mashing the cooked fruit. It can be stuffed. It is frequently, but not always, cooked with oil or fat.
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