Irrespective of the increasing price of onions, or their reputation as tear-jerkers, the Union Territory tops the country in per capita consumption of onions. Obviously, people here love to eat onions, whether in curries, in salads or just by themselves.
According to the National Sample Survey Report on Hosusehold Consumption of various Goods and Services in India, 2011-12, released in June, every urban resident of Chandigarh, on an average, consumes 1.5 kg onions a month. The rural folks do still better, consuming 1.7 kg onions per head per month.
When asked what makes onions so popular in the UT. A housewife, Manpreet Kaur, who was buying onions in the Sector 26 vegetable market, on Wednesday, said, “If we have a good stock of onions in the kitchen, we can cook everything, from Indian to Chinese and even Italian. It is difficult to cook a delicious dish without onions. Take dal, who will like it unless it is fried with chopped onions in desi-ghee?”
“Onions add flavour to every dish, it can also be eaten raw, can be used for making pickles and chutneys, we use it in salads and we also make onion-filled paranthas,” said Shelja Gupta, another housewife.
Ghazala Hasan, whose family prefers non-vegetarian food, said no non-vegetarian dish can be cooked without onions, as onions thicken the gravy, which everyone loves.”
However, Pratiyusha Ahluwalia, a resident of Sector 32, whose family prefers to eat onions raw, usually in salads, felt that most of the onion consumption in the city was in hotels, restaurants and small dhabas. However, she agreed, “It adds to the taste, which everyone looks for.”
Giving her expert opinion, Dr Niprupa Marwaha, Professor and HOD of Food and Nutrition at Government Home Science College, Sector 10 said, “Indian style cooking can never be imagined without onions and no other ingredient can give that taste to a meal.”
Onions also have health benefits, said Dr Marwaha, “Onions have high content of anti-inflammatory, anti-cholesterol, anti-cancer and antioxidant properties. Elders suggest eating onions for protection against the summer heat.”
The Sector 26 wholesale markets gets about 750 quintals of onions daily, of which 200 quintals is consumed in Chandigarh and 100 quintals goes to Mohali and Chandigarh. The rest is supplied to nearby areas of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, said GR Pillai, Secretary of the Market Committee.
He added, “The increase in price does not have much impact on the buyers.”
Onions come from Nasik, Indore and Rajasthan. On August 6, the grain market received 288 bags of onions from Rajasthan, 1,117 bags from Indore and 437 bags from Nasik. One bag carries 50 kg of onions. The wholesale price on Wednesday varied from Rs 20 to Rs 25 per kg. The retail price in the Sector 26 market was Rs 30 to 35 per kg.