Best of Indian Cooking: Onion story

Types of Onion used in Indian cooking

The onion love story of India and the different varieties used in Indian cooking.

After all, what’s a chaat without onions? Or Delhi’s favourite cheat snack – Chhole Bature without those juicy onion rings?

Indian cooking’s love affair with onion isn’t new. It is the one ingredient that no desi cook would want to be without- be it street food, a Mughal feast or a poor man’s meal – onions are an irreplaceable ingredient. No wonder an onion-shortage is treated as a state of emergency in our country!

Yeah, ROFL !

While we consume onion so often but hardly pay attention to the different varieties being used in our kitchens. You will be surprised to know that we have eight different varieties of onions available in our local markets and used extensively in Indian Cooking – Red, White, Shallots, Pink, Yellow, Baby, Spring, and Brown Onions.

Here’s a where these different varieties are used in cooking:

1. Red Onions

They are the famous Nasik red onions that are available in local mandi’s in summers. These have a strong flavour as they do not contain sugar, and also happen to contain more flavonoids than the yellow or white ones.

Red onions are used in preparing South East Asian cuisines incl. Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi. They’re also frequently raw in salads, salsas, and as a toppings on burgers and sandwiches.

TIP: If you find their flavor too astringent for eating raw, soak them in water for 10 mins before serving

2. Yellow Onions

These are the all-purpose onions, with a mildly sweet flavour but many don’t prefer eating them raw. Used in preparing pretty much anything, yellow onions work really well in dishes that require long cooking times or as the base in curries, stews, soups, and they’re great in meat dishes.

3. White Onions

Both red and white onions are quite similar to each other in terms of their texture, flavour and aroma. However, White onions have a thinner skin and flesh so are preferred as thickening agents in sauces, gravies, stocks, chutneys, soups, and other raw preparations. White onions are also extensively used in preparing Mexican cuisine.

4. Pink Onions

Are used in preparing increasingly popular variety of food in the United States and Europe.  They are ideal for both hot and cold dishes and perform well when barbecued, roasted and when added to stews and curries.

5. Shallots

Let’s just say that shallots are an elegant European cousin of the onions, and a really terrific addition to your cooking. But when you’re looking to use interchangeably, a general thumb-rule you should keep in mind is to use half the number of shallots as you would use of onions.

Also, being bit sweeter than regular onions, makes them good as a seasoning in raw applications like salads, hence used in Asian cuisines. 

6. Pearl Onions / Baby Onions

This variety caramelises quickly when subjected to heat and adds an almost candied onion taste to the dish. The lack of the sharp spicy notes of the Spanish onion or periya vengayam makes it vital in a poriyal and definitely the star ingredient in a traditional sambhar.

7. Spring Onions

Commonly known as scallion or green onions, they are loaded with essential nutrients like Vitamins, are low in calories and can be cooked or eaten raw. They are used in preparing Chinese cuisine, in our favourite chow-mein (how can we miss that)!

CURRYSOME FACT: Tony Glover (UK) hold the record for growing the heaviest onion weighing 8.5 kg.

So go on, and cook some masterpieces with these show-stoppers. By the way, did you the know that the majestic pink packaging of CURRYiT Purani Dilli Ke Chhole is created referring to the sirke-wale pyaaz that come along with the chhole bhature. Yeah, that’s how particular we are about recreating a complete culinary experience for you.

Best of Indian Cooking - Purani Dilli Ke Chhole Curry Paste


Guess what inspired the label colours for the other CURRYiT products. Leave a comment.

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