According to my vocab lists, 茄 (qié) was one of the very earliest Chinese characters I ever learned; this doesn't really surprise me, since it's the character for my favourite vegetable — the aubergine, or eggplant.
There are a few other characters that 茄 often appears on menus in company with: 子 (zǐ), 條 (tiáo), and 蕃/番 (fān). I wondered if perhaps 茄子 was an emphasis of the egg-like nature of the aubergine, since one of the meanings of 子 is "seed" or "egg", but pne has commented with a more informed view — he says the 子 is probably
being used as a mostly-meaningless suffix to disambiguate it from similarly-pronounced characters and/or to make the one character into a proper "word" (which often have two characters). 茄條 usually means that the aubergines are cut into strips — 條 refers to a long, narrow piece of something.
番茄/蕃茄, on the other hand, doesn't mean "aubergine", but "tomato". I don't know the etymology of this, but pne proposes in the same comment that it might be "barbarian's eggplant", since one of the older meanings of 番 is "barbarian", i.e. someone not Chinese (perhaps a politer translation might be "foreigner's eggplant"). Note that 蕃 is just 番 with a grass radical (艹) on top — I've seen both spellings in roughly equal proportions.
Here are some dishes with 茄 in the name:
|魚香茄子||yú xiāng qié zi||fish-fragrant aubergine|
|紅燒茄子||hóng shāo qié zi||red-cooked aubergine|
|雙椒茄子||shuāng jiāo qié zi||aubergine with green and red chillies (雙椒 is literally "double peppers")|
|老干媽茄子||Lǎo Gān Mā qié zi||aubergine with Lao Gan Ma chilli sauce|
|家常茄子||jiā cháng qié zi||"home-style" aubergine|
|蕃茄炒蛋||fān qié chǎo dàn||stirfried egg with tomato|
Another term for aubergine is 矮瓜 (ǎi guā), which literally translates as "short gourd". As mentioned in the comments on that post, though, I've only ever seen 矮瓜 on one menu — 茄子 is much more common.
|茄:||qié||radical 140 (艸/艹)||Cantodict||MandarinTools||YellowBridge||Zhongwen|