Who doesn’t love a good baby onion? Sitting in bowls at restaurants, these little ones keep desperate hunger pangs at bay in that interminable wait between the order and the food.
But the kid version of the tear jerking vegetable, identified as Madras onions by traders, may soon be contributing to higher restaurant bills. No prizes for guessing why: the miniature variety of the kitchen essential has witnessed the steepest price rise this season.
Traders at Vashi’s Agricultural Produce and Marketing Committee (APMC) say that the bulbous vegetable, which was being sold for Rs 35-40 a kilogram till mid-April this year, is now going for Rs 100 at the wholesale market.
A trader at Vashi’s APMC said that while at least two trucks full of the vegetable were coming in to the market daily a month ago, there is a grinding shortage of the same these days. He added, “This is a commodity that has a high demand in gulf countries as well, but with a shortage, it is becoming difficult for us to export it.”
Ramesh Choudhari, another trader, confirmed, “The produce has not been very good this year, because of which there is a grave shortage in the market. Around a week back, the price of these shallots went over Rs 100 also. The price has been hovering around Rs 100 from some time now.”
MiD DAY checked whether the rise would affect rates at restaurants. Niranjan Shetty, chairman of the Association of Hotels and Restaurants (AHAR) said, “If the prices keep rising in this manner, we may be compelled to keep a floating menu, where prices wont be fixed. We are not going to immediately raise the prices and will wait for a month or so before taking a decision, as we don’t want to lose our fixed customers.”
The price rise is also affecting the quality of a beloved delicacy in most Tamil households -- vengaya sambhar. Vashi resident Mohana Iyer said, “Although Madras onions are not used daily in south Indian homes, but on Sundays or when we are feeding guests, it is a must on the menu. The steep price rise may force us to stop using it till the rates drop.”