This was a very important lesson that I received way back in 1997 while cooking in the management training kitchen at WMI (Welcomgroup Management Institute). Till then, I used to cut the onions any which way I felt like and mostly used onion pastes as I liked my gravies smoother. Else, sliced were much preferred, unless you were in the mood to finely chop the onions (believe me, when you have been chopping 20 odd kgs of onions everyday for a month, mood does come into play, when you have some leeway, like we had in the MT kitchen). Chef Manjeet Gill was visiting the WMI facility and dropped by the kitchen to see what my 3 other colleagues and I were upto. On seeing me slice onions for a specific dish, he walked me up to ask me what I will use it for. The dish in question called for chopped onions, and he promptly pointed it out and told me to correct it. I asked him as to what difference it will make to the dish and his reply was "plenty" atleast to the taste(summing it up. Can't remember the exact words).
Due to the huge respect for the man (his works are legendary and he's a fantastic man. Just met him a year back and I just go starry eyed meeting him), I promptly corrected the technique. But in a day or two, I tried the experiment of cooking up a dish three times, using chopped onions, sliced onions and fried onion paste. The difference was there ...the difference that makes one dish good and the other great.
Fried Onion Paste
Onions - 1 Kg.
Yogurt- 100 gm.
Oil - For frying
1. Slice the onions.
2. Heat oil in a wok and saute onions till they are golden brown.
3. Remove onions on an absorbent paper to drain excess oil.
4. After they have cooled down, blend them in a processor with yogurt to a fine paste consistency.
5. Your fried onion paste is ready to use or store. (can be stored in an air tight container for 10-15 days).