Eggplant (Solanum melongena) is a warm-season tropical perennial that is grown as an annual in temperate regions. Native to India/Southern Asia, eggplant is a member of the Solanaceae family, and is closely related to the tomato, tobacco, potato & pepper. It's commercial cultivation is concentrated mainly in India and Asia, though eggplant is now a staple food for many culturally-important dishes in Europe. Raw consumption of eggplant is not common, as the fruits are quite bitter with a spongy texture. Cooked, however, eggplant has the ability to soak up large amounts of fats and oils, making for a wonderful addition to curries, roasts & sauces.