One of the most important and common ingredients of Indian cuisine is Onion.
Most of the vegetarian and non-vegetarian Indian dishes are cooked with onions. They are used extensively to enhance taste of vegetables / meat / poultry, render bulk to the gravy, to make some of the most delicious soups and chutneys, as well as consumed even raw in Indian salads.
You’d rarely see Indian recipes that do not contain Onions. But what are the factors that make onions a healthy addition to Indian cuisine? This post is dedicated to exploring this aspect.
Onion is also known as bulb onion, garden onion and just onion. Botanically, Onion – Allium Cepa – belongs to a large varied family which includes more than 500 species. It’s available in various forms, such as – fresh, frozen, canned, pickled, chopped plus a few more, and used for both culinary and non-culinary purposes.
Onions are an exceptional resource of natural vitamins like B6 and C, chromium, biotin, and fibers. As such the health benefits of onions are vast. Ranging from normal cough & cold to diseases of heart, diabetes, bacterial infections, breathing problems, asthma, bronchitis, etc. onions have proved to be real effective even for poor appetite.
Thus not only for culinary purposes (as vegetable ingredient), Onions are also used for adding medicinal value to food, because of their rich content of sulfides, sulfoxides and other sulphur composites. Studies have proven that together with garlic, onions help to keep up blood levels, avert blood clot formation, lower levels of pressure & sugar in blood, and cure many other diseases.
Types and methods
Onions are found in varied colors, red, yellow, white, and green, each possessing their individual distinctive essence, from very strong to slightly sweet. They are eaten in various ways – raw, cooked, fried or roasted – each has its own different taste and effect on your health. Other than the common bulb onions, spring onions are also used in cooking purposes. Spring onions are green and add a different taste and color to your recipes.
In case of Red Onions, the smaller it’s cut, the more widespread is the variation of the sulfur substances. The more powerful the odor of Onion and its impact on your eyes, the more healthy it is, since it’s believed to contain more vitamins and minerals. So while cutting onions, if it makes you cry with the pungent odour, it will make you healthier.
There are many ways you can cut onions, depending on the dish you’re cooking. When cut in larger blocks, it stores the vitamin and mineral capacity to the maximum while cooking. On the other hand if you finely chop it and keep in room temperature for sometime before cooking, it makes the onion turn golden brown quickly and reduces your cooking time.
Spring onions on the other hand add a very mild taste to the food. It is used raw and preferred fried compared to the red onions. Noodles, sandwiches, soups and curries are cooked using spring onions.
Treating onions in different ways while cooking, implants a specific flavor and releases a specific aroma. For example, proper Sautéing of the onions is very important as it can add a different dimension to your favorite dish. Sautéing for 5-7 minutes is considered apt for cooking most Indian dishes. Light golden brown should be the only color after you are done with sautéing the onions. If the color turns dark brown it will leave you with a bitter taste and the recipe could get spoilt totally.
So the next time you feel like crying when cutting onions for your favorite dish, do remember that you’re crying in favor of health and taste!