An eggplant or aubergine is either of two
species of nightshade, Solanum melongena and S. esculentum,
bearing large pendulous purple or white fruit. The raw fruit has
a sponge like texture and somewhat disagreeable taste, but on
cooking becomes tender and develops a rich, complex flavor.
The variety that closely resembles a chicken egg in both size
and shape is commonly known today as Indian eggplant. The
varieties cultivated in The West today are of similar shape but
both larger and darker. Chinese eggplant is shaped like a
cucumber. Both Indian and Chinese eggplant usually has a color
gradient, from white at the stem to bright purple to deep
purple, but albino varieties also exist.
Although aubergine is the (British) English name given to this
fruit, it is often invoked to describe other objects with a dark
plum-colour. This name comes from the French aubergine, derived
from Catalan albergínia, from Arabic al-bAdhinjAn, the eggplant.
The word melongena is from the Sanskrit vatinganah, which has
produced a number of names for this plant in various languages:
brinjal, badingan, melongena, melenzana, berenjena, albergínia,
aubergine, brown-jolly, and mad-apple (misinterpretation of
Italian melanzana as mela insana).