Onions were initially cultivated 4,000 years ago in the regions of Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.
The word onion has been derived from the Latin word unio. Due to the natural composition of onion with many layers bonded together, the Romans had named it unio, which means oneness. Onions are commonly used in all types of cuisines. However, onions have not always been so popular.
For instance, most of the Indians did not consume onions due to certain religious beliefs that insisted people to refrain from its use, as it was believed to create evil qualities that lead one to become angry, resentful, arrogant and destructive. While on his visit to the 110 states and provinces of India from 629 AD to 645 AD, the Chinese traveler, Hiuen Tsang (picture, left) witnessed that people who consumed onions were asked to stay at the outskirts of the town and were not allowed to mingle with other people. After the ancient Indian physicians like Charak, Vagbhatt and Shushrut mentioned about the exceptional medicinal qualities of advantages of onions in Ayurveda, it slowly started getting popularity among Indians.
For many years the British, too, had shunned onions from their menu owing to its pungent smell. It was the outbreak of plague in 1350 that transformed their disliking towards onions. It so happened that during this epidemic termed as ‘Black Death’, thousands of British lost their lives. Surprisingly, onion traders were somehow miraculously saved from this epidemic. This incident established a strong belief in the minds of the populace that onions were actually good for health. Gradually, onion was added as an ingredient in various cuisines worldwide.