How Chefs Can Handle Onion Crisis At WorkPlace

Chander Sarvagyam (csarvagyam@gmail.com)

In General, Onion makes us teary-eyed. However, restaurants remove onion dosa from the menu temporarily. Onion price hits INR 11 Thousand per quintal in the Nashik region of Maharastra.  Let us see how we, as chefs, should respond to the crisis.

Onion is one of the oldest vegetables in India and is cultivated throughout the country. However, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, and Andhra Pradesh are the main onion-producing states with Nasik, the biggest onion market of the country generally controlling onion prices and supply.
In fact, during an onion crisis, a newspaper report noted that “India consumes on an average 40 lakh tons of onion a year and the projected imports of around 13 Thousand tons, of which 3000 tons has been sought by Delhi, would meet only a day’s demand.” Onions, all over the world is an integral part of food/cuisine. Also known as the bulb onion, it is the most cultivated species of genus –Allium.

Now that, Indian Food Diaspora is going through a great onion crisis, let us tighten our belts, oh sorry – aprons and let us resolve to get over this too with aplomb, as usual. Not that, it is the first time. We go through this man-made crisis every year, which, is now a regular occurrence, like a season. Many debates and blame the government, farmers, or even God is not spared. Let us not fall into this complicated process and let us do what we are best at- get over this crisis as usual with a little out-of-the-box thinking.

After all, the ‘Kitchen Kings’ and can come out of our domain, without ‘wet eyes’. A few tips – Manage onions in a kitchen like we manage Gold. Minimize usage of onions in curries, gravies, sauces and we can substitute the same with the ‘lauki gourd’ / pumpkin pulp and create a similar body
without compromising on quality and taste. We can use a pinch of hing / asafoetida to get the onion-garlic flavour that all North Indian curries have. While still, other dishes use poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and ground spices of other kinds which would be cooked in the sauce to thicken the curry/sauce base. Avoid serving raw onions in salads etc and by chance, a customer/guest insist, then serve it separately to avoid wastage. Avoid using onions in our staff’s food. After all, we relish, homely food and just tell which household uses gravies and curries to make their food delectable?

An interesting aspect is the Indians’ love-hate relationship with the onions. Some communities can’t do without onions and others won’t
touch it with a ten-foot pole.  Of course, there are a still lot of alternates available like dehydrated onions and more, which can be used for the time being, but we all know that without onions too, most of the food can be created wonderfully. We, the Chefs, can show it the world, that great food can still be prepared with judicious use of our art, skill and of course passion.

(The author is the director of Vinnca Hospitality. The views are own. Readers can reach him at csarvagyam@gmail.com )

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