Onions – Importance for health, and as an Ingredient

Onions are also known as “Kanda” or “Pyaaz”. It is one of the commonly used ingredient and definitely brings delight to our taste buds. The word “onion” comes from the Latin word unio for “single” or “one”. This is because the onion plant produces a single bulb, not like its cousin, the garlic, that produces many small bulbs. The onion is scientifically known as “Allium cepa”. It consists of several layers inside. That is, we can say that it is a union of many separate, concentrically arranged layers.

onions

Onions are also known as the bulb onion, is used as a vegetable. It stands as a main ingredient in many recipes, as it gives very delicious flavor to the recipe, which without is tasteless. Even though, it brings tear to our eye and pungency to our breath, we never change our minds to make a dish without it (onion). There are various variety of onions which may differ in color, size and taste. The onion plant has a green leaves on the ground and bulb at the base of the plant. The base of the plant begins to swell after a certain period. In the autumn the foliage dies down and the outer layer of the bulb becomes dry and brittle. Now, the crop is harvested and dried and the onions are ready for use.

Consumption of onion is believed to be healthy, as it contains phenolics and flavonoids that have potential anti-inflammatory, anti-cholesterol, anti-cancer and antioxidant properties. Onions can also be eaten raw. They are used to make pickles, chutneys and many more things. Onions are often chopped, sliced, boiled and blend to a fine paste. They can also be baked, boiled, roasted, fried braised or sauteed. It contains certain chemical substance which irritates the eyes.

Onions are normally available in three colors: white, red and yellow. Yellow onions, also called as brown onions, are fully flavoured and are consumed by the people daily. When caramelized, these (yellow) onions turn rich and dark brown. The red onions are a good choice for fresh use, when its color livens up the dish. And the white onions are the traditional onions which are used in classic Mexican cuisine. When these onions are cooked, they have a golden colour and are particularly sweet flavored when sauteed.

Onions at their immature stages are also eaten. That is before the bulb occurs, the onions are harvested and consumed. These are called spring onions. Spring onion can also be called as “Scallions” or green onions. These onions are very young onions, harvested before the bulb has had a chance to swell. It adds nutritive and a taste value to a dish. It can be used in many different ways. It has an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin C. It also helps in lowering the blood sugar level.

 

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