Onion embodies the philosophy of life; deeper you get into there is nothing within. It takes us for granted by making us shed tears while using it and at the same time, provides protection against many diseases. It is nature’s wonder, too.
Besides, big and small onions, there are many types of onions available in the world with different shapes and sizes. It holds so many other names, like Eerulli, Sukkirantham, Nichayam, Palaandu, Kaayam etc. It is a diuretic, aphrodisiac and phlegm expectorant. One of the songs of Agathiyar in Treatise of Siddha Medicine, that speaks about its qualities as coolant, curing piles, sores, diarrhoea and excess bile.
It is one of the ingredients in enhancing fragrance in food, and therefore cultivated in olden days in India and other Middle East countries. Use of onions is evidenced even in the Egyptian cemeteries. There are so many references to it in olden scriptures such as the Bible, Quran, and Vedic Literatures. It was considered as an all-cure remedy during the Mesopotamian civilisation. Many older works of literature found in Egypt, Rome, China and Greece speak high about onions. It is rich in Calcium, Iron, Phosphorous and Vitamins. The strong fragrance of onion is due to the presence of sulphur in it at high levels.
The anti-oxidant, Quercetin, present in the onion protects us from common fever as well as from cancer. The anthocyanin present in it enhances its quality in terms of medicinal values. Research publications endorse that the onions have the ability to protects us against cancers, like a warrior in the border. They have the capacity to prevent atherosclerotic conditions developing in the blood vessels. It is better to add more onions in the food so as to improve the presence of good cholesterol. It also has a major role in controlling blood glucose levels by improving insulin secretion.
In Indonesia and China, people practise eating noodles and rice-based foods after sprinkling them with cut onions. Many argue that the taste of noodles soup, called Luxa, is enhanced only due to the sprinkling of onion.
In Tunisia, ‘Cus Cus’, a kind of upma made of minor millets mixed with fermented onion paste is a popular dish. While speaking about the significance of onion, it won’t be complete if we don’t mention about the French onion soup. In Western countries, spreading onion paste on the base like pizza is also very popular. Cut onion strips are dried under the sun and are added with mustard and black gram and finally made into crispy papads, make green churns and tamarind masala stew so delicious. It is also the best vehicle to have it along with old rice soaked in water overnight.
The aphrodisiac effect of onion is more than almond and pista and those who wish to enhance their virility can have onion, the cheapest and most effective remedy. An Arabian book entitled, ‘The Perfume Garden’ belonging to 16th century, there is a mention about enhancing virility by consuming onion mixed with honey. In the French tradition, it has been a practice to provide ‘Onion Soup’ for the married couple immediately after their wedding.
In order to reduce body heat, onion cuts can be fried with ghee and consumed. It is a perfect combination to have onion with churned green leaves and this will cure the symptoms of piles. Fever with shiver can be cured on consuming onion with three pearls of pepper. When there is a burning sensation on micturition and difficulty while passing urine one can drink water mixed with crushed onions. Siddha medicine recommends using onion to detoxify the ill effects of tobacco. The onion sheaths used in food is good in healing stomach ulcers. Consuming water boiled with onions and mixed along with palm jaggery will relieve menstrual pain in the lower abdomen.
Consuming more amount of onion will cause gaseous bowels. So it should be consumed with caution. Soaking in lukewarm water for a few minutes and then cutting the onions will not cause shedding of tears.
The Bengal masala made by mixing an equal proportion of onion seeds, mustard, fenugreek, cumin and anise strengthens the body. The seeds of onion increase virility. A European writer described with wonder the preparation of a kind of food made from using an excess amount of onion with mutton, some specific leaf and root varieties, aromatic products and butter. In the book, ‘Ayn-E-Iqubari’ related to the great king Akbar, there are many food varieties mentioned that are prepared using onions. Therefore, onions are shields, protecting our body!
Missi-roti: It is one of the best delicacy, prepared using wheat flour mixed with cut onions, green leaves and powdered fenugreek.
Samusak: It is a kind of samosa consumed as a snack, by stuffing meat with almond, pista, onion and cumin inside wheat breads and get them fried using ghee. In the official party hosted by Mohammed Bin Tuglak, Samusak was one of the dishes that did not fail to be enlisted in the menu card.
Sarki: It is a hot soup prepared using cucumber, onion and tomatoes and it was one of the top items in the tables of Bohri Muslims in the 11th century.
Sofregit: Keep two teaspoons of gingelly oil, three cut tomatoes, two small onions, three garlic pearls, two pepper seeds, a cup of mushroom, little amount of cumin and coriander leaves on a pan and mix the content thoroughly while heating it. Its taste will improve with the slow pace of heating and mixing its content. It will resemble tomato sauce and it is one of the favourite food items in Spain.
Yucatan: Cut a big onion and pour adequate water and boil it. Decant the water and dry its content thoroughly. Take five seeds of powdered pepper, three pearls of powdered garlic, coriander leaves, half a teaspoon of salt and half a cup of vinegar, mix them together and pour it on the onion for 24 hours. Now the onion pickle is ready to consume. It is one of the famous side dishes in Mexico.
Onion-Pomegranate Dip: Mix Avacado kernel with a little amount of lemon juice. Take one cup of cut onions, two garlic pearls, a little number of mint leaves and chilli, three teaspoons of pomegranate juice and grind them along with the Avacado kernel-lemon paste. Finally, sprinkle onion strips and pomegranate seeds over it and it can be used as chutney that is so delicious.
(This article written by Dr V Vikramkumar MD(S) in Tamil has been transcreated in English by V Amalan Stanley)
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