NRIs in soup as shortage of Indian onions grips households, restaurants

Photo: Shutterstock/Melica

Indians residing in Dubai are facing a culinary challenge as the supply of Indian onions in the Middle East has dwindled, prompting a shift to Turkish onions. The scarcity has compelled individuals to modify their recipes or opt for dishes that do not rely on onions. Keralites are particularly affected, expressing discontent over the shortage of even Pakistani onions.

While Turkish onions are present in the market, they have not proven to be a satisfactory substitute for Malayalis. Despite their availability, these foreign onions come at a considerable cost, ranging from 6 to 12 dirhams per kilo, approximately Rs 135 to 270. This price hike is exacerbated by the fact that the taste of these white onions does not meet the expectations set by the previously abundant and affordable Indian onions, which were available for just 2 dirhams per kilo.

The culinary impact is also felt in Kerala cuisine restaurants, where owners and chefs find themselves apologizing to dissatisfied customers who note a decline in the taste of their favourite dishes. Presently, Turkish onions and white onions imported from Europe are the primary onion varieties available in the market. Muhammad Al Shareef, chairman of the Fruit and Vegetable Sellers Council in Dubai, attributes the surge in onion prices in the international market as the reason behind the current predicament.

As a response to the escalating costs of Iranian and Turkish onions, authorities are exploring options to import onions from Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. The abrupt increase in onion prices is linked to the complete cessation of Indian onion imports and the concurrent rise in cargo rates.

Sliced onion
Sliced onion. Photo: Shutterstock/Robertsre

Dr. Suhail Al Bastaki, the communication director of the Etihad cooperative institutions, disclosed ongoing efforts to find alternatives due to restrictions on Indian onion exports. He assured consumers that a variety of onions from different countries would be made available at reasonable rates in stores.

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