A small, mild member of the onion family, this herb is hardly used in India. Considering our great love of onion and garlic, chives ought to be in our kitchen gardens. Remember the onion crises of 1980, 1998 and 2010, which brought down governments? If every home had a few pots of chives, we could have avoided all that panic. And yet, I never met this plant until a year ago, when my friend Shahnaz gifted me two each, of onion chives and garlic chives.
I was bowled over by their flavour and ease of use. Just pick a few leaves, wash, snip with scissors (quicker than chopping), and fry lightly before adding your masalas, just like you would with onion or garlic.
Easy to grow, as well. Plant the seeds in a potting medium in a small pot or tray. Keep them in a sheltered spot, with the soil just damp. The plants will sprout with very fine leaves, like grass. Transplant them to a bigger pot when they are 4-5 inches high. In a mature plant, the leaves are about 2-3 mm wide, and flat, unlike spring onion leaves.You can start using the leaves as soon as there are enough to spare. In a few months, the plants will flower. Wait till the seed pods are dry before picking to save the seeds for your next batch. (Chives seem to be perennial in our climate.) It’s as easy as that. Try it now and thank me later!
Bonus: it looks pretty, too.
Another bonus, a joke.
Onion been eating my chives?