If the British ever interfered with the cultivation, distribution or the consumption of onions in India, they wouldn’t have ruled over India for 300+ years. The Salt Satyagraha or Salt revolution wouldn’t be nothing compared to an ‘Onion uprising’. Sorry Bapuji, (An Indian term of endearment for Mahatma Gandhi) didn’t mean to trivialize your movement in 1930 which led to the civil disobedience movement and the eventual exit of British from India. I just used this paradigm to emphasize the importance of onions to India and Indians.
Just as tomatoes are important for Italian sauces, Onions are considered as an indispensable ingredient for Indian curry sauces. Thousands of Indian dishes use onions as the foundation for the dishes.
One frequent question I get from the visitors of this website is whether to use red or white onions. Well, I use mostly red onions because I cry less when I slice or chop them.
Again, I don’t want to trivialize this serious question. So, I experimented with both red and white and found out that white onions are better for caramelizing, especially when you want the sauce to be thick. Didn’t notice much difference in taste though.
Being said this, use shallots for garnishing and for vegetables if you can find them easily and economically. Shallot gives a better taste and fragrance to vegetables.
Regardless of the type of onions you use, chopping/slicing/cutting them make a big difference:
To Caramelize – Slice onions thinly, lengthwise, with a sharp knife. Sautee in a round anodized chef pan in medium heat until onion is golden brown.
For Sauces – Slice or chop the onion thinly and uniformly and use either a chef pan or sauce pan. Sautee them until clear.