Though onion prices have gradually begun to slide, you can still expect a rise in food rates across restaurants in the city.
At a meeting held on Thursday, representatives of more than 7,000 members of the Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association (AHAR) voted that prices on their menu cards needed to be hiked by at least 20% to 25% because of the losses they have incurred recently.
“In the past two months we were forced to absorb losses that we suffered because of rising vegetable prices,” said Sudhakar Shetty, president of AHAR. “Now with onion prices so unstable and no help from the government, we have decided there is no option but to introduce a hike.” Shetty said that the decision for rate hike would be finalised in a meeting within two weeks.
Owners of several popular restaurants claim they have been rendered helpless by the onion. “We have been taking a hard hit because of onions in the past two weeks, but we had hiked our rates by 10 % just a month ago and cannot do it again so soon,” said Masood Mansuri, general manager of Colaba’s Delhi Darbar, who admitted that they will be forced to raise prices if the situation worsens.
However, a chain of fine dining restaurants in Colaba, Bandra and Andheri has decided not to change their menu rates up till the end of January.
“We are confident the onion situation will be back to normal in another six weeks, and we don’t want to let our customers down during the festive season,” said Farhan Azmi, owner of Café Basilico and Koyla, who claims his company will absorb the 15 % loss that they are likely to incur.
Meanwhile, most households in the city are working are managing their budgets by substituting onions with other options such as coconut milk, fresh cream, groundnuts and tomatoes. For housewife Nitu Chadha, onions are best replaced by curd or radish. “The prices of radish are still within reach, and if you grate it and squeeze out the water, it can become a delicious base for mutton or chicken recipes,” said Chadha, a Bandra resident.
Beena Shah, a member of the Jain community who does not eat onions or potatoes on religious grounds, has been happy to recommend traditional recipes to friends seeking advice. “Our gravy base for all vegetables comprises tomatoes, fresh cream, cornflour and spices, and the result is no different from an onion-based gravy,” said Shah, a housewife from Ghatkopar. “Friends who taste my food can never detect the absence of onions.”