The great Indian leveler, the most egalitarian of vegetables – the onion is sought after by Aam Admi to Ambani . Every palate craves for it, unless you have renounced the world. Our kitchens whisper softly into its pink glistening skin …you complete me. The poor peasants’ meal is incomplete without a bite of the pungent bulb. It adds chutzpah, that crunchy zing to our meal. Of course the wicked veggie it is, it is layered to bring out the tears, but do we mind?? Naah.
But these days the modest onion is bringing tears of the other kind – tears of frustration. The naughty little bulbs have been playing truant and prefer the cool comfort of dark-dank godowns. This has sent prices spiraling skywards and has raised a stink so strong that the government had to wake up and smell the onions (coffee is so passé). They have been tardy as usual, while the onion mafia is laughing all the way to the bank. Traders have been hoarding stockpiles of the smelly bulbs while the government is pottering around with ad hoc fixes. Thanks to an official missive, onions will cease to be globetrotting veggies and will be homebound till mid-January.
The onion deprivation has done a lot of good for our neighborly ties. For once we are looking forward to something from Pakistan – 40 truckloads of the humble bulbs all the way from Sindh to ease our Big-O predicament.
Inflation-hit onions have also been taking on the role of the great Indian unifier with aplomb. For once there is no north-south divide. If dosa makers down south have bid adieu to the bulb, then Mughlai chefs up north are using bread crumbs to thicken their gravies. And it has given way to some unique dishes like the Mutton no pyaaza.
Since our breaths are far from oniony, the sparkle is back into our conversations. We welcome this temporary reprieve from holding our breaths and not choking on our own words. Breath freshener companies are far from amused though about this new development and are now banking on garlic to come to their rescue. Another not-so-amused person is Graham Onion, the English cricketer. TV presenter Gaurav Kapur has been insisting the cricketer choose his reserve price per kilo for the IPL auctions.
But the elusive onions are rediscovering themselves in various avatars.
- As the new ice breaker. Alone and getting bored at a party? Just say the magic words where are the onions at the buffet table and Whoa! you will have hordes clamoring to voice their opinions and don’t forget to pitch in with the choicest of gaalis for the government to keep the passions ignited.
|Pic courtesy - Reuters|
- As a sought after accessory. Many BJP workers are using them as a fashion statement and are now wearing them as garlands. Behen Mayawati has also been making surreptitious enquiries about 3-ton onion garlands (who wants currency notes anyway).
- Sheila, the not so jawaan edition, has squarely laid the blame on the media for fuelling the onion price scare. But just when our kitchen austerity has nearly succeeded in bringing onion prices down to Earth, the ubiquitous tomato is demanding its share of limelight. The tomato is on its way to becoming the new onion.
So if you still haven’t decided on a Christmas present yet – ditch that box of chocolates. A kilo of onions snuggling on a bed of tomatoes, wrapped in red and gold, is priceless!