If you go looking for onion rava dosa in a Chennai hotel these days, chances are you will be disappointed. Owing to the prices of vegetables - and onions in particular - skyrocketing, many hotels and homes have curtailed their menus!
While the wholesale rate of onion hovers at around Rs.70 per kg, at the retail level it is around Rs.100 per kg. Chennai is completely dependent on onions from outside and therefore has been hit harder than most other places in India.
"We are more affected than many others by the high onion prices as we use at least two kg per day in our cooking. Onion and garlic are most important items in our food," Lathifunisa Khaliq, a resident, said. Garlic is selling at Rs.300 per kg in Chennai.
She said her per day budget for vegetables has doubled to Rs.300 in two months time.
Some smaller hotels here have stopped making items like onion rava dosa and onion uttapam, with the vegetable being sparingly used for items like sambar. Five-star hotels, however, are not affected as they continue to get their supplies at contracted rates.
An offical of the agriculture department said: "Chennai is dependent on outside supplies, so prices are bound to be higher compared to most other places."
A vendor in the Koyembedu wholesale market said: "Vegetable arrivals have gone down owing to rains in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Today top quality onion is being sold at Rs.3,500 per 50 kg bag and lower quality costs Rs.3,100 per 50 kg bag."
He said carrot is being sold at Rs.38 per kg, beetroot at Rs.18 per kg, beans at Rs.30 per kg, brinjal at Rs.30 per kg and tomatoes at Rs.23 per kg.
At the retail outlets, capsicum costs Rs.40 per kg, ladies finger Rs.50 per kg, cabbage Rs.40 per kg, carrot Rs.50 per kg and tomato Rs.35 per kg.
Some are blaming the high prices on hoarding.
Khaliq said, "My brother on his way back home learnt the onion price was Rs.70. When he went back to buy some, the vendor said he did not have the stock and the next morning he was selling the same for Rs.100 per kg!"
The government has already moved to stabilise onion prices and has banned exports till Jan 15.
"No vegetable is less than Rs.30 per kg. Even the greens per bundle cost around Rs.20 at the local market," fumed Shanthi Rangaraj, a city resident.
"As onion prices are ruling high, I have cut down the purchases. Seems it will force us to follow the diet of strict Vaishnavite Brahmins who don't use onions in their menu!" she quipped.