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Onion was highly respected in the Ancient Egyptian civilization. Infact, the well-known “Sham EL Neseem” festival, where fish and onions are eaten is the celebration of the coming spring to the Egyptians.This custom of eating very highly salted (rotten) fish, with massive quantities of onion and spring onions certainly has carried on to our present day by the Egyptians.The botanical name for onion is Allium Cepa. Its common name is garden onion. Its arabic name is Basal. It is a plant in which we wonder where to place it; with spices or with vegetables.

For over 4000 years, Onions have been used for eating and for medical purposes. It was cultviated by the Egyptians around 3200 BC but must have been domesticated earlier, and is thought to have been derived from a wild species found in the mountains of Central Asia.  Egyptians numbered over 8000 onion-alleviated ailments. They were fed together with garlic to workers building pyramids and were found in the tomb of King Tut.

The esteemed Greek physician Hippocrates prescribed Onions as a diuretic, wound healer and pneumonia fighter.

Onions are noted in the Bible as one of the foods most longed for by the Israelites after leaving Egypt for the Promised Land.

The HOLY QURAN narrates the story of the Israelites longing for Onions and asking Moses to pray to GOD asking for onions and other plants. Moses told them to “go down to Egypt”, where they can find all what they had longed for, inspite they had much better food from God.





Onions have been enjoyed by most cultures throughout history. Onions were commonly grown in the Middle Ages throughout Europe. Christopher Columbus brought Onions with him to the Americas. Their popularity quickly spread among native American cultures.

During World War II, Russian soldiers applied Onions to battle wounds as an antiseptic. And throughout the Ages, there have been countless folk remedies that have ascribed their curative powers to Onions, such as putting a sliced Onion under your pillow to fight off insomnia.

The parts used are the bulb. The familiar and popular onion is a bulb of Allium cepa, a low growing plant. Botanists classify it in either the lily family or the amaryllis family. Onions and shallots are closely related to leeks, chives, garlic and Chinese chives. All these belong to the genus Allium and have the characteristic onion smell, caused by alkyl sulphides.

Fresh onions are pungent and have a sharp bite. Cooked onions lose this heat and develop a rich sweetness. This sweet taste is mostly appreciated by barbecuing onions on charcoal. They generally have a papery outer skin over a fleshy, layered core.

There are different types of onion (Allium cepa). Bulb onions Multiplier onions Shallot (most of the types in the markets are Allium cepa) Potato onion Tree onions or Egyptian onions.

Tree onions, also commonly called top onions or Egyptian onions, are a strong-growing onion with a bunch of bulblets where a normal onion would have flowers. In some varieties these bulblets will sprout and grow while still on the original stalk, which may bend down under the weight of the new growth, giving rise to the name, walking onion.



The constituents of onion contain only traces (0.01%) of essential oil, which mostly consists of sulfur compounds. Onions contain two substances that give them most of it beneficial properties: sulfur and quercetin - both being strong antioxidants. They each have been shown to help neutralize the free radicals in the body, and protect the membranes of the body's cells from damage. Quercetin is also found in tea, but in much lower quantities. Interestingly, white Onions contain very little quercetin, so it's better to use the yellow and red varieties.  One small onion cooked without salt contains .8 grams protein and 1.3 grams of fiber. It also contains the minerals Potassium , Phosphorus, Calcium ,Magnesium, Sodium and Selenium. Also contains small amounts of iron, manganese, copper and zinc.

Onions have a very peculiar phenomenon, it makes you cry while cutting it. This is caused by breaking the onion cells while slicing. Onion cells have two sections, one with enzymes called allinases, the other with sulfides .

 The enzymes break down the sulfides and generate sulfenic acids. Sulfenic acid is unstable and decomposes into a volatile gas called syn-ropanethial-S-oxide. The gas then dissipates through the air and eventually reaches the eye, where it will react with the water to form a mild solution of sulfuric acid. The sulfuric acid irritates the nerve endings in the eyes, making them sting. The tear glands then produce tears in response to this irritation, to dilute and flush out the irritant.

Different species of onions will release different amounts of sulfenic acids, thus some will cause more tear formation and irritation than others.



The uses of onions are primarily in cooking, as it is the most abundant ingredient in most dishes. However, there are some medicinal uses of onion.

Medicinal uses.

Onion is used as a diuretic, expectorant and antiseptic. Onions are highly recommended for people trying to prevent cardiovascular disease, cancer, and infections. They appear to be at least somewhat effective against colds, heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases and contain antiinflammatory, anticholesterol, and anticancer components.

 Onions contain many active compounds that appear to inhibit the growth of cancerous cells, help combat heart disease, inhibit strokes, lower blood pressure & cholesterol, and stimulate the immune system. Alliums are also antibacterial and anti-fungal, so they can relieve stomach upset & other gastrointestinal disorders. As with Garlic, Onions help prevent thrombosis and reduce hypertension, according to the American Heart Association. The natural constituents of yellow or white Onions can raise HDL cholesterol over time.

Culinary uses.



Onions taste great in most of our dishes.it is used in every thing except for sweets and desserts. Onions can be used chopped, kippled or minced. Pastes prepared by grinding onions together with a variety of spices are known in quite many countries. Since raw onions easily turn bitter, such pastes must be prepared fresh and used without much delay; alternatively, they can be preserved by adding some acid (e.g., vinegar or lemon juice).

By frying, onion changes its taste and turns more sweet and aromatic; the flavour develops best after long frying in comparatively cool fat. Fried onion rings are popular in Central Europe as a decoration. In India, onion is the base of most sauces and gravies.

Onions may also be dried, in which case they again change their flavour and turn more garlic-like. Onion powder is a rather popular spice in the South of the US and in México,

Dried Onion can be added straight to liquids, but should be rehydrated before being added to drier dishes such as casseroles and stirfries. Rehydrating them also increases potency. Onions make the perfect foundation for meats, poultry, soups, salads, and stews. Dried Onions release flavor more rapidly than freshly chopped Onions when added to a recipe.

Shallots stem from a closely related plant, Allium ascalonicum. They are smaller and grow in clusters with up to five bulbs; their taste is somewhat finer and less pungent. Shallots are most popular in Northern France, however, the french donot fry shallots.



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