I was born in Delhi and spent most of my childhood here. It was only in college that I left for Ahmedabad and later worked for a few years in Mumbai. As a food enthusiast, I realised early on in life that there is so much variety in India, that you can spend a lifetime sampling it and yet not end up trying everything. Every state, or rather each district, has its own unique cuisine, love for certain ingredients and traditions around food. The one thing that I noticed most when I moved from Delhi to West India, was the absence of onions on my thali, in Maharashtra, Gujarat or even further south like Karnataka and Kerala. There was the odd chopped ‘kaanda’ alongside pav bhaji, but that was a rarity with other dishes. Onions are a staple in parts of North India – Punjab, Haryana, UP, Rajasthan, etc. No meal is complete without some raw onion on the side. Can you imagine a plate of chole bhature without lachcha pyaz? Or a seekh kebab without onion dunked in green chutney? Onion may be a humble ingredient but it holds centrestage in our meals here. Like many traditions, this one too has it’s basis in scientific reasoning. My grandmother would squash a whole onion with the palm of her hand and add it to our plates in summers. Fondly called ‘mukka pyaz’, it was meant to keep us cool in this scorching heat. Biji (grandmom) wasn’t wrong. There are many benefits of onions, and one of them is that it has cooling properties.