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Onions bring smiles to faces of Indian tourists in Thailand
Sunday November 3, 2013 1:04 PM, Vishal Gulati, IANS

A tear-jerker is bringing smiles to the faces of Indian tourists in Thailand. The onion, whose prices have hit the roof across India, is the most sought-after in recipes and salads by visiting Indians.

"It's time to look for dishes that are garnished with onions. Back home it's now a luxury," said Arshuman Singh, who was here on a holiday with his wife Divya.

"We have also ordered a plate of salad with onions only," Singh told a visiting IANS correspondent.

The Delhi-based couple was at Bawarchi, an Indian restaurant on Sukhumvit Road, the main arterial avenue of the city with shopping malls and fine dining restauarants.

Another couple, Atul Kumar and Jyoti, said they enjoyed mussels steamed with lemongrass and garnished with plenty of onions.

In India the price of onions, the base for most of the curries and traditional dishes, has skyrocketed to over Rs.80 a kg, compared with Rs.20 three months back. It's, however, just 20 baht or Rs.39.61 in Bangkok. One Thai baht equals Rs.1.98.

Trade representatives here say the demand for green onions is more in Bangkok compared to bulb onions.

A kg of green onions varies around 40 baht but the common or dry onions remain less than 20 baht.

Green onions are young shoots of dry onions and are milder tasting than large bulb onions. They have a small, not fully developed white bulb end with long green stalks.

Chi Shen, a chef in The Imperial Queen's Park, told IANS that the green onion is an essential ingredient in countless Thai recipes compared to the bulb ones.

"We are using the bulb onions only on demand. These days their demand, especially by Indians, is good for salads, marinades, salsas and roasts," he said.

Shopkeepers in the Khlong Toey market, known for selling raw meat, seafood and farm produce, say the demand for dry onions has suddenly spiked in the past two-three months.

"We are getting good demand from those restaurants where we were earlier supplying green onions only," vegetable seller Anchalee said.

She said even Indians these days are frequenting this market to buy onions. Both dry and green onions are available here all year-round.

"I have purchased a 5-kg pack of onions. This I will take back to my home in Mumbai," Bhagyashree Pandey said. Retail prices of onions have quadrupled in many Indian cities over the past three months.

The Indian government says incessant rains have destroyed the crop badly in onion-growing states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Odisha.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at

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