In times of skyrocketing onion prices, what would Birbal's rival Mulla Do-Piyaza do?
The word onion has started to sound less like a delicacy, and more like crisis again much like 2010.
Ironically, this happened during Navratri when most of North India abstains from onions and garlic.
Dopyaza, the Mughlai lamb/mutton curry uses onions twice. First the onion is cooked in spices and curry and second, golden-brown fried onion is used as a garnish.
Sheikh Hasina’s cook of course could have looked up the recipe of Niramish Mangsho’ or vegetarian meat of Bengal where Puja meat is çooked without onion and garlic.
Around Navratri, restaurants serve colourful vegetarian thalis in both Jain and Vaishnav traditions.
For me, muri (puffed rice), green chillies in raw mustard oil and onion fritters in the afternoon is equal to a cigarette puff in winter accompanied by sips of Italian red wine.
From Central Asia, the vegetable spread its roots across the world and entered India about 5,000 years ago.
Pompei, destroyed by the volcano Vesuvius, recorded the use of onions too. Dannazione! The onion is overcooked.
Even the Bible referred to it in several places.
The Charaka Sanhita also mentions the use of onion to help against digestive and and heart problems.
However, the woes of Bangladesh PM had to do with India cutting off onion exports suddenly not giving time to make alternative arrangements. Sheikh Hasina, in a lighter vein asked for advance notice, next time.
Onions have also made Indian politicians cry. A household staple, any change in prices affects a large block of voters--citizens and farmers. India faced crises in 1998, 2010, 2013, 2015, 2018 and even this year when Maharashtra, a major producer, goes to the polls!
In India, onions are used for gravies, taste enhancers, as pickle, powder or spice. In Maharashtra and Rajasthan people make a special curry out of it.
Kande Ki Sabji: in Rajasthan, onion is cooked with yogurt, ginger and garlic and made into a flavoursome side dish.
This month, the retail price of onion touched Rs 80. The government hurriedly intervened and banned the export of the onion. And imported some. This brought down the price a little.
But sure enough, the export ban and new import did not please the farmers, as the election approaches
But to come back to the title at the end, what would Mulla Do-Piyaza do in this situation?
May be he’d try to find a solution where farmers would not have to be dependent on rain?