Tuesday, September 18, 2007

the power of the pungent bulb

man has been cultivating onions for food from the dawn of civilisation.the ancient egyptians worshipped them. the concentric rings and the spherical shape of the onions were supposed to symbolise eternal life. the dead were buried with onions to enable them to wakeup in their afterlives thanks to onion's strong scent or odour whichever way you look at it.

onions have travelled a lot.they went to greece where they were used by atheletes and gladiators who used them to lighten their blood and harden their muscles. it has been proved that onion has medicinal properties for preventing/ curing a whole lot of ailments. on the other hand in india the people were a bit lukewarm to onions. it was considered taamasic food and blamed for stimulating baser desires. but in the last 500 years or so due to the impact of muslim and british cultures,indians have acquired a taste for onions and have assimilated onion as part of their food habits.though for the orthodox among hindus and jains, onion is still taboo.

onions can be consumed in many ways.you can eat them raw with salt after slicing them. they can be fried with batter and eaten as onion rings or also as a vegan french onion soup.you can have them in vegetables and also in sambhars.

in india, onions are politically very powerful.onions have proved to be india's most politically sensitive crop. they can keep goverments going or cause their collapse. if the prices shoot up beyond a point,the government's defeat in an election is certain. governments are careful not to upset the onion cart. because it can bring tears-both literally and politically.

besides hoping that the prices are kept under check by the government,there are many ways to arrest the watering of the eyes when you slice through an onion.some wear goggles,some put them in deepfreeze before slicing,some even light a candle on the cutting board,some also meditate. all in the hope that the strong odour that gets released while slicing due to the enzymes are reduced and the sulphur gas allicin which irritates the eye gets suppressed. onion is a tear-jerker indeed!

i love onion sambhar particularly when the baby onions are used.with idli it is an explosive combination.i take them raw too with green mirchi and salt considered to be a poor man's daily vegetable.also french onion soup and onion rings are my favourite. i remember vividly when i first visited my daughter l at charlotte,north carolina,where she was studying.we went to a restaurant in the school campus and the only thing that we two could eat were onion rings!

when you have potassium,calcium and magnesium along with vitamin b,zinc and iron in onions, it can only do good for you. when i go to my doctor to have my bp checked,sometimes,i press a sliced onion under my arms and it works. the doctor is pleased to see that my average bp has come down. i tell him the trick and he has a hearty laugh.no more,he says.the onion that you love will kill you.

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