Jalgaon located in Khandesh in Maharashtra is popularly known as the ‘City of Brinjals’. Light green brinjals from Jalgaon district comprising of fifteen talukas of Jalgaon, Jamner, Erandol, Dharangaon, Bhusaval, Bodwad, Yawal, Raver, Muktainagar, Amalner, Chopda, Parola, Pachora, Chalisgaon and Bhadgaon are used for preparing the famous Khandeshi vangyache bharit. Locals say that brinjals are native to India and have been cultivated for more than 4000 years. There are references of the spicy Khandeshi bharit in Marathi literature of the 15th century. Jalgaon brinjal is also mentioned in tribal folk songs of Jalgaon district. This brinjal variety has been preserved since the 15th century. It is a tradition in this district to serve the delicious brinjal dish in almost all celebrations and festivities.
In Jalgaon district itself, Yaval and Bhusaval are renowned for bharit vanga that is the brinjals specifically used for preparing bharit. Bamnod village in Yaval taluka produces the large sized variety that has a medium spicy taste. Asoda, Bamnod, Mamurabad, Bhadli, Bhalod and Bhusaval have greater area under cultivation and therefore, greater production of this variety.
The rich medium black fertile well-drained soil in this district is well-suited for the cultivation of bharit brinjal. Climatic conditions characterized by hot summers, general dryness throughout the year and a good monsoon is favourable for the cultivation of high yielding and good quality brinjal.
The farmers adopt a unique method of seed preparation. Good quality bharit brinjals that are yellow in colour are plucked in January. These are dried in the sun for 8 days after which are they opened and cleaned with water. The seeds are separated and those that settle in the bottom of the water are selected for germination. Farmers say that seeds floating on the surface of water are of poor-quality. They also choose small-sized seeds to get large sized brinjals.
Brinjal plant is perennial. Cultivation is done in April, July and September and planting is done between November to January. The selected brinjal seeds are sown in raised nursery beds that is well-irrigated. Brinjals are harvested after 3 – 4 months. Grading is done based on colour and size of the fruit. The average yield is about 250 – 300 quintals per hectare.
Jalgaon brinjal is pale green in colour with white stripes, long and oval and slender-shaped, larger in size and heavier as compared to other varieties. These brinjals have lesser number of seeds inside and secrete more amount of oil on roasting which gives a very distinctive taste to bharit.
Bharit vanga is in great demand not only in Maharashtra but also abroad in countries like Tibet and Germany. Jalgaon brinjal received the Geographical Indication Tag (GI) in 2016.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)