Replace onions with these!

The rising onion prices have compelled us to be more creative with our cooking skills. These options will help replace the celeb veggie, without compromising on the flavour.


These days when you go to your pet restaurant for lunch or dinner, you hardly find any traces of onion on the complimentary salad plate, which the waiter nonchalantly puts on your table. And it just ticks you off. It is quite appalling to shell out a fortune for a meagre veggie, which also happens to be one of the key ingredients of our everyday cooking. I have friends who can’t image one meal without onions, but, looking at the way its prices are rising exponentially and newspapers citing that 90 per cent of the stocks are already over, it is best to avoid the damn vegetable.

For the coming 15 to 20 days, until the kharif crop comes up in October, the hoarders will be making a fortune. So, for the next two weeks, just keep your cravings for onions under control and look at food in a different light. Here we tell you tricks to easily replace the celebrity vegetable, without compromising on the flavour.  

Instead of water, use broth, wine, vodka or any other liquid as the base of cooking. It will impart an inviting aroma to the dish, which will also be loaded with flavours. When you heat up wine and cook for a while, it leaves behind a mild, pleasant smell and softer taste. Unlike popular perception, you can try cooking traditional Indian curry-based dishes or even veggies and meat, which has a slight runny texture with wine. For instance, if you are preparing chicken butter masala, you really can’t imagine it without onions, but, try adding wine once and see the difference. It will turn out to be as lip smacking as you want it to be. For vegetarian dishes, if you want to avoid alcohol, the easiest way would be to make them with a broth. I have even tried cooking maggi with Old Monk and I really enjoyed it.   

The easiest way to put an end to your culinary misery would be to get your hands on some onion powder from a grocery store. You can buy those paprika-style bottles of onion powder or a few packs of readymade onion paste. Remember to check the expiry date.

Garlic roasted on a slow flame imparts a flavour which is surprisingly very similar to onions. It is cheap and readily available, so you can keep your kitchen stocked with it for the next two weeks. And the best part is that you can use it in whichever dish you are making be sure about the flavour.

If you are one of those hopeless onion lovers, you can use finely chopped cabbage, celery and carrots in your food. Their texture and flavour are quite like the onion, and if you think your food has turned out a little sweeter, you can always add a spoon of balsamic vinegar and bingo.

If you are making a paneer dish, try adding herbs like rosemary, sage or thyme with some chopped tomatoes and you will be surprised how enticing it will turn out to be.

If you can get your hands on shallots, green onions or leek, you will be quite sorted. They have a very similar flavour and texture as onions, but the only thing you will have to keep in mind while you are cooking is that they get cooked faster than regular onions and may get completely dissolved in the food if you over cook them. You can also consider these while making pastas, sandwiches, roles and Chinese and Thai curries.

Many traditional Indian kitchens where onions and garlic are not allowed to be anywhere in the house, use hing (asafoetida) which imparts the dish a unique, slightly pungent and lingering flavour. For a lot of vegetable curries, you can try enhancing the taste with hing. It also tastes well with pulao.


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