Onion is a vegetable which has pungent taste & smell and several layers in a composition. It is the cultivated species of ‘Allum’ (botanical class of onions).
Indian dishes are comprised of three elements viz., base, body, and texture. Most of the Indian cuisines, especially curries, begin with the action of heating the oil, adding the onions and frying them until they turn golden brown in colour. When setting brown, Onion forms the base for the dish as well as enhances the quality of oil for curries. Onions provide the consistency to curries, a rich aroma to rice preparation and juicy element to salads.
Speaking the consumption of onions, various cultures/doctrines describe it in different forms and its utilisation in routine. Ayurveda has described the onions as Rajasic (mode of agitation) which denotes the freshness and pitta (fire-water element of the body) pacifying Food. Use of onions in Indian cooking is inevitable except in Jainism and Yogic Culture because they believe that onions, being rajasic in its characteristic, stimulates the central nervous system which disturbs their spiritual practices and their celibacy vows. Mughlai cuisine, which is an inseparable part of Indian cuisine, has extensive use of onions. Most of the non-vegetarian (meat) dishes cannot be made without adding onions to them; the juice of Onion softens the flesh, which ultimately makes it digestible.
Onion is Perennial (continually recurring) that is cultivated for Food worldwide. In India, it is grown mostly in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Gujrat. Indian agricultural system is based on two cropping seasons, namely, Kharif and Rabi. Kharif cropping season is from July to October and Rabi is from November to March. The period of cropping between April to June is early Kharif or Summer. Since Onion is perennial, they are cultivated throughout the year in different parts of India. Hence Onion can be found in Indian vegetable market for an entire year in abundance.
The Onion was a staple in the prehistoric diet since most researchers agree that it is being cultivated for 5,000 years or more. Our ancestors started eating wild onions very early – long before farming was invented. Also, Egyptians considered onions as an object of worship. The onion symbolised eternity to Egyptians who buried onions along with their ‘Mummy’. Being such an ancient vegetable and essential part of the diet since ages, Onion has reinforced its place in Food.