Onions are possibly the most used vegetable in the world, being used in a number of international dishes from a range of cuisines. But why do we use onions so much? The simple answer is that they act as a great starting point for any dish, they can be used to incorporate flavours at the starting point of any recipe. Other vegetables like celery, carrots and garlic are also used as the basis for dishes, not always necessarily added for their flavour. Onions are a versatile vegetable and can be cooked in hot dishes or served raw in salads or as a garnish. This article will investigate how onions are used in different cuisines from around the world and even highlight a diet that doesn’t include onions in any of their dishes.
When considering which cuisine uses onions the most in its dishes, most people would probably say Indian cooking, in particular the vast array of curries. Onions are usually the first step when preparing a curry, cooked over a medium heat until they are soft and they turn clear. Most recipes use firm white onions, however, they can be either diced, chopped or even cut Julienne style into long thin strips. The way that the onions are cooked will influence the taste and texture of a curry, for example, the longer an onion is cooked the browner and darker the curry will be. Onions can also be blended with ginger and garlic into a thick paste which is then boiled in water, this removes most of the onion taste and aroma but it used as a thickening agent. Despite the large amount of onions used in Indian cooking, it is actually Libya who has the highest consumption of onions per person per year. The average amount of onions eaten per person is Libya is around 30Kg a year, well above the international average of 6.2Kg.
Latin American and European cuisines also rely on onions in a number of dishes, these range from soups and broths to salsas and fajitas. The white onion is favoured for its clean and sharp taste; sometimes a recipe can call for two or three onions, this is due to onions’ ability to balance the mixtures of spices and herbs called for in recipes. Red onions, or using their Spanish name cebolla morada, are also used in Mexican cuisine, especially in dishes from the Yucatan region of Mexico. They are commonly pickled and used in salads or as a garnish due to their attractive colour and mild flavour. It is clear that onions can be used in mass throughout the world, whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner dishes. But onions are even being used outside of savoury recipes, with some using the vegetable in combination with fruit in cakes and tarts.
One diet that doesn’t use any onions is Jain vegetarianism; this diet is similar to a vegetarian diet except it also excludes onions, potatoes and garlic. Strict variations of the Jain diet are practised by ascetics; they believe that food should only come from non-violent sources, ruling our any meat, fish, dairy or eggs. Although it is hard to find a substitution for onions, Jain recipes will attempt to compensate for onion taste through adding additional herbs and spices. For Italian, Mexican and Indian dishes, it is suggested that fried cumin seeds and asafoetida are used to replace the onion taste. Despite the Jain diet excluding onions, they still remain one of the most widely used vegetables in the world, with the global population estimated to consume 105 billion pounds of the vegetable a year.
M&P Engineering is a leading specialist in the design and manufacturing of food processing equipment including their world-famous onion peeling machine. The onion processing equipment uses a self-adjusting assembly of floating knives to top, tail and peel onions from 45mm to 115mm diameter. The onion peeler also uses air compressors to remove the outer layers of onion peel, helping to keep optimum appearance of the final product. M&P Engineering also stocks a range of used food processing equipment to suit your budget.
Based in Trafford Park in Manchester, M&P Engineering has years’ of experience delivering food processing machinery including its food filling equipment and food depositing machine. Speak to a member of the M&P Engineering team today to discuss your food processing equipment needs and to find out more about their onion peeler range.
If you would like to speak to a member of the M&P Engineering team, call on +44 (0)161 872 8378 or contact us here.