By: Rogia al-Shafee
KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - Onion is a winter, economic, exportable and highly important crop due to its nutritive and healthy nature. It is considered an assured and satisfactory source of income for the farmer as it is a common consumer's commodity and is a basic element in preparation of all kinds of Sudanese food, whether fresh or dried.
The Sudanese woman has long recognized the nutritive value of onion and the means for conserving it by drying during the season of abundance for use in times of scarcity. Each bulb is chopped in circles and fried in oil to become of a beautiful golden color; then it is ground and kept in a tightly closed container. It may not be fried but only dried and kept in the container for frying later on during the cooking. The onion is used in all kinds of the Sudanese food such as tagaliyyah (dried okra and mutton), Niaimiyyah (dried okra with yogurt) and waikab (milk or white beans and stalk ash). It is also added to the tray of fish and chicken. Moreover, onion is also used for medical purposes.
The Sudanese onion is considered among the best kinds and can be competitive in the international markets because a few insecticides and chemicals are used in growing it and because of its strong flavor. It is grown in all states of the country because of the suitability of the soil and the climate, particularly in the states of Gezira, Kassala, River Nile and Khartoum. The produce meets the country's local consumption and the surplus is exported to neighboring and Arab countries.
Abdul Majid Abdul Rahim, the expert in the alternative and complementary medicine in the Research Center of the International University of Africa, said the onion is regarded one of the ancient vegetables known to mankind. It was used by most civilizations of the world and is nowadays found fresh, frozen, canned, acetified or dried. It is cut in small pieces or slices. It is hot, strong and sometime sweet in taste and flavor differing from one kind of food to another, cooked or used in salads.
Onion has several medical and nutritive benefits as consists of fibers, light oil which is responsible for its peculiar smell, carbohydrates, vitamins A, B and C, protein, fats, calcium and iron. It also contains Coconino which is as effective as insulin in determining the rate of sugar in the blood and therefore doctors advise that onion is to be taken fresh. Moreover, it is a strong detergent and revitalizes the heart and the blood circulation and prevents occurrence of clots and blood problems.
AS an outward treatment, onion further cures swollen feet, whooping cough and lung pain by heating slices of the bulb and placed like a plaster on the chest to treat its pains and on the kidneys and on the lower part of the abdomen to treat the urination difficulties and on the lower part of the head to treat the tonsils inflammation and other diseases.
The onion juice cures the cataracts by placing drops in the eye and it also heals simple injuries and insect bites and alleviates tension by smelling its oil. It prevents the stomach cancer, acne and vitiligo.
It also possesses a nutritive and medical value for chicken for the resistance against numerous diseases.
In order to get rid of the strong smell of the onion after peeling, particularly for women and cooks, the hands are rinsed with salt, vinegar or lemon juice and then washed with warm water or incensed with the smoke of burned onion peels.
Azhary Mohamed al-Shaikh, member of the vegetables and fruit exporters union, said the Sudanese onion was during the past period highly demanded in the markets of the neighboring countries and the Gulf States, especially Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. But now, he said, things have changed, despite the abundance in productivity, the cost of production has become very high to the extent that "we could not withstand competition in the external markets, considering the high cost of transport. We hope things will change for winning back the markets we have lost."
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