Botanical Name: Allium cepa
- English: Onion
- Ayurvedic: Palaandu, Durgandh
- Unani: Piyaaz
- Also, known as: Basal, Basl, Bawang, Cebola, Cebolla, Cebolla Morada, Cepa Bulb, Cepolla, Cipolla, Common Onion, Madras Oignon, Oignon, Cu Hanh, Cong Tou, Hom Hua Yai, Hom Khaao, Red Globe Onion, Sibuyas, Spanish Onion, Hom Yai, Hu-T’sung, Piyaj, Piyaz, Pyaz, Pyaaz, Hu T’sung T’song, Hua Phak Bhu, Kesounni, Khtim, Küchenzwiebel, L’oignon, Loyon, Küchenzwiebel, Tamanegi, Palandu, Ralu Lunu, Tamanegi, Ui, Umbi Bawang Merah, Vengayan, Yellow Bermuda Onion, White Globe Onion, Zwiebel, Yang Cong, and Oignon
Habitat: Western Asia, now cultivated worldwide
Parts Used: The bulb
Allium cepa, a biennial herb, up to a meter tall, strong-smelling when crushed; bulbs vary in size and shape from cultivar to cultivar, often depressed-globose and up to 20 cm in diameter. The bulbs vary in size, shape, color, and pungency, though warmer climates generally produce onions with a milder, sweeter flavor than do other climates. A rounded bulb covered with a brown or purplish, papery skin. It has a strong characteristic pungency flavor results from the sulfur-rich volatile oil it contains and when onions are cut, the cell walls are damaged, releasing a sulfur compound that floats into the air which turns into sulfuric acid when it meets water. This explains why it stings if it gets into the eyes. This effect can be brought down by cutting fresh onions under cold running water, which will reduce the sulfur compound before it can drift upward into the air. Tubular, waxy leaves, which are dark green on the aerial part, up to 40 cm in height and 20 mm in diameter. They are nearly semicircular in section and slightly flattened on the upper side, thin, wrap over and protective on the outside, meaty on the inside and they accumulate reserve substances to form the bulb. The hermaphrodite flowers are white, the fruit a capsule.
Most commercially cultivated onions are grown from the plant’s small black seeds, which are sown directly in the field, but onions may also be grown from small bulbs or from transplants. The bulbs are eaten raw as an ingredient of salads, soups, sauces, stews, and curries or may be processed for use in pickles and chutneys. Adding chopped onions as an ingredient to a sour fruit sauce turns it into a chutney. Onions may be white, yellow, or red. They have a strong flavor and are used chiefly for soups, stews, and other prepared dishes and for frying.
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