The Origins of Onion Shallots and their linguistic travel worldwide

Once I was reading a great research on DNA and the author a well known scientist showed how Onions DNA matches closest to Human beings. That always surprised me and created much curiosity. I did ample research in past years and found that Onions originated in ancient lands of India along with Garlic where they were used in ancient medicinal systems for millenniums. Today worldwide almost every body knows the taste and benefits of onions. Lets see its linguistic origins and its interesting story.

If you cut an onion in half and visualize you can see that its center has two elements and then it evolves like a spiral like a Mandala of Universal energy giving an image of universe itself.

ऊली f. Ulli Sanskrit for onion and garlic gave Latin for Garlic and all sulfurous bulbs and shallots like Allium and Cepa [From ZwetaKand in Sansrkit] means Bulb or Bulbous and Cepa gave birth to Ceba [Catalan & Occitan], cepa, cebola [galician & Portuguese], Cebolla [Spanish pron. as ceboya], Cipolla {Italian] in all Latin Languages.

Cebula in Polish and Ceapa in romanian, Cebule [czeck] Capula in Dalmatian, cibuyas [Tagalog [Filipino], Sipuli [Finnish], German: Zwiebel (de) f Alemannic German: Bölle, Central Franconian: Öllisch.

Names of onion in Romance languages derive from Late Latin cepa "onion" and its diminutive, cepula; examples include Italian cipolla, Provençal cebo and Romanian ceapă; cf. also Albanian qepë. Estonian sibul, Finnish sipuli, Slovak cibuľa, Yiddish tsibele [ציבעלע] and Ukrainian tsybulya [цибуля].

French oignon, English onion and Dutch ui derive from late Latin unio "onion", probably related to unus "one" because of the single, perfectly shaped onion bulb in contrast to the multitude of garlic cloves. Original link of unio with Sanskrit ushna [उष्ण] "hot, passionate, pungent" which can be used to denote onion.

From Middle English onyon, union, oinyon, borrowed from Anglo-Norman union et al. and Old French oignon, from Latin ūniōnem, accusative of ūniō (“onion, large pearl”) French: oignon and Onion or Onnyon[Anglo Saxon].

Sanskrit word श्वेतकन्द zvetakanda [SwetaKanda] also known as सुकन्द sukanda onion सुकुन्दक sukundaka onion gave word Kanda for Indian languages like Marathi, Punjabi, Potohari, Pahari known as Prakrit form of Sanskrit [ Sanskrutm ] came Cepa regular onion or shallot or Allium Cepa or Ascalonicum - Botanically named.]

A liliaceous plant of the genus Allium. लशुन or Lahsun was used for Garlic green herbs.

Persian Piyaz :پیاز even though means circular globus or bulb but Piyaz was not really a word for onion but for a fresh salad that contained Onions & shallots; a kind of Turkish salad or meze that is made from any kind of dry beans with onion, parsley and sumac.

In Antalya, piyaz is not considered a salad but a main dish. In southern provinces like Adana, the word piyaz is used to refer to an onion and sumac salad. During the Ottoman period, piyaz was also made from artichoke, pea, chickpea, broad bean and potato, which were introduced to Turkey in the last quarter of the 19th century.
कृमिघ्न kRmighna is another medicinal word for onion in Sanskrit which focused on its nature of heat.

Greek kremmidi [κρεμμύδι]. The latter has a long history in Greek language and was already used by Homer, who tells us that the Greek heroes of the Iliad, more than 3000 years ago, used to eat onions with wine: kromyon poto opson [κρόμυον ποτῷ ὄψον] "onion as a relish for the drink". It has a Sanskrit cognate, krimighna [कृमिघ्न]. Related to kremmidi (via an Proto-Indo–European root KREM) is a common word for many other words. The Bulgarian name kromid [кромид] is borrowed from same Greek Sanskrit origin.

The names of onion in Semitic tongues are still remarkably close: Arabic al-basal [البصل], Hebrew bazal [בצל], Tigré basal [በሰል] and Maltese basal. These derive from a common Semitic root ŠḤL with the basic meaning "to peel". Arabic basal has been borrowed by Turkish in the Ottoman period, but is now abandoned in favour of the Altaic-derived soğan. Turkish and turkmen Sugan or Sogan originates from Sanskrit Sukand and Sukandak.

The recorded history of onion begins early, in the Bronze Age. Both onions and garlic were highly popular in Ancient Egypt. It is known that these plants were part of the diet of the workers involved in the erection of the Great Pyra­mids; pre­sumably, this also served to prevent infectious diseases to spread in the densely populated workers’ quarters. The Old Testa­ment mentions both onion and garlic specifically in connection with the sojourn of the Israelites in Egypt. Another Bronze-Age source, the Illiad of Homer, mentions them in a culinary context.

Both onion and garlic are featured promi­nently in a col­lection of Baby­lonian recipes from Meso­potamia (ca. 1600), which is now kept at the Uni­versity of Yale and known as "Yale Recipes". The about 35 recipes written on three clay tablets show that onion and relatives were character­istic flavours of ancient Babylon: Onion (Akka­dian šusikillu), leek (karšu, karašu) and garlic (hazanu) appear in almost every recipe, usually in mashed form to be stirred into the foods.

In ancient In­dia, onion (and also garlic) were very unpopular for quite some time yet they were used in popular medicines.
HEALTH Benefits. Fresh onions contain only traces (0.01%) of essential oil, which mostly consists of sulfur compounds: Ethyl and propyl disulfides, vinyl sulfide and other sulfides and thioles. Onions contain significant amounts of flavonoides, e. g., quercetine glucosides.

Most vitally needed for human body as sulfur is one of the most critical compound for human health. Ideal to contain High Blood pressure and Heart issues, consuming regularly fresh onion can be life saving. Onions also are expectorants that is they clean the pecto area, lungs areas' mucus and phlegm. In case of urine retention take few spoons of onion juice with 2 spoons of sugar in hot water and it does help. Similarly onion of purple and green color mixed with brown sugar and eaten in a green sauce can help in piles. For generations, Iranians have been eating fruits, vegetables, and herbs for health benefits that have recently been discovered in other parts of the world. For example, onions and garlic, pomegranate, and sabzijat (various green herbs) are regular ingredients in many Persian dishes.

By Dr Naila Hussain - more posts - Facebook


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