Badenjan-e- Siya Akhondan
One of the main cultivation areas of this vegetable is located in the village of Akhondan, from where more than 85% of the entire production of this variety originates. The locals believe that this variety originated in this village and, for this reason, they call it Banjan-e- Siya Akhondan.
The fruit is narrow and elongated. The length of the fruit varies between 25-40 cm and the weight is 300-450 grams; the stem height is about 40-80 cm with light purple flowers. It has a bushy stem with large, ovate and slightly lobed leaves. The colour of the fruit is dark black with a shiny skin.
Most aubergines are self-fertile, but occasional crossing and parthenocarpic fruiting does occur. This is particularly important for the sandy soils of the Akhondan village, which contain < 3 % organic matter. The best soil pH is 5.8-6.5 and the altitude from sea level is 920 m. Due to the climatic conditions and early harvest, farmers sow aubergine seeds in greenhouses at the beginning of March. Farmers use the furrow system for sowing.
The edible part of the black aubergine is the fruit, which can be grilled, stuffed, roasted, served in soups and stews and on kabob, and used in curries and stir-fries. But most locals cook them as Burani banjan, fried in oil with the addition of garlic and dried yoghurt; to keep the fruit fresh during the harvest season, locals divide the black aubergines into medium-sized pieces and then hang them on ropes and sun-dry them.
The fruits are consumed fresh or processed by drying or pickling. Traditionally, black aubergines are pickled with grape vinegar, garlic, green chilli, salt and other vegetables such as clove flower, cucumber and celery.
The black aubergine is fresher and tastier than the other varieties available in Herat. Black aubergines are a common vegetable in the daily diet of the local population. Moreover, many restaurants in the city of Herat prefer to use this variety to cook Burani banjan or other types of dishes. This product is one of the famous seasonal foods of the local population in Herat and Kandahar provinces.
This type of aubergine does not grow in other parts of Afghanistan nor in surrounding countries such as Iran, Pakistan and India. In Afghanistan, most farmers produce purple aubergines (glob aubergine, zebra aubergine, Indian aubergine and Italian aubergine). However, farmers in the village of Akhondan, in the Gozara district of Herat province, mainly produce black aubergines. The main reasons for keeping this aubergine are that:
1- It is produced in small quantities, almost exclusively in a small area.
2- It faces competition from other nationally grown varieties
3- Many types of aubergines are imported from Iran and this has a negative impact on the price.
4- Farmers are losing interest due to low prices during the harvest period.
Most nature conservation associations, social environmental activists and agricultural authorities are motivating farmers in Akhondan to continue sowing black aubergine as a special product in Herat. Efforts are also being made to motivate the hotel industry to refer to Bajan-e- Siya Akhondan in their restaurant menus.