Shallot (Allium cepa Aggregatum group)

The shallot, also called “multiplier onion”, is a variety of the onion, Allium cepa L. var. aggregatum. Formerly classified as the species A. ascalonicum, a name now considered a synonym of the correct name.[1] In Australia, the term “shallot” can also refer to scallions, while the term eschalot is used to refer to the shallot described in this article. The term “shallot” is further used for the French gray challot or griselle, Allium oschaninii, which has been considered to be the “true shallot” by many.[citation needed] It is a species that grows wild from Central to Southwest Asia.

The shallot is called موسیر (Moosir) in Persia, and is often crushed and mixed with yogurt. Iranians enjoy yogurt in this way, especially in restaurants and Kebab-Saras where just kebabs are served. Most shallots are grown wild, harvested, sliced, dried, and sold at markets. Buyers will often soak the shallots for a number of days then boil them to get a milder flavour.

Persian shallot is Allium hirtifolium Boiss., and different from the common shallot. It is white-skinned and each plant has one or rarely two bulbs, while the common shallot is reddish-brown skinned and each plant can contain as many as 15 bulbs. It grows wild across the Zagros Mountains in different provinces of Iran.

Indian names are kanda or gandana (Hindi, Marwari and Punjabi), gundhun (Bengali) and chinna vengayam (Tamil).

Shallots are called ‘bawang merah kecil’ (small red onions) in Bahasa Melayu, an official language of Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore, also called Brambang in Java, and “hom” (หอม - literally “fragrant”) in Thai. In Cambodian (Khmer) literally called it “Katem Kror Hom” where “Katem or Ktem” is a species of Onion and “Kror Hom” or “Hom” is meant RED describing the colour of the onion, which roughly translate as “Red Onion”. In South East Asian cuisines, such as Thai, Cambodian, Malaysian and Indonesian cuisines, both shallots and garlic (‘bawang putih’, white onions) are very often used as elementary spices. Raw shallot can also accompany cucumbers when pickled in mild vinegar solution. It is also often chopped finely, then fried until golden brown, resulting in tiny crispy shallot chips called ‘bawang goreng’ (fried onions) in Indonesian language, which can be bought ready-made from groceries and supermarkets. It enhances the flavor of many South East Asian dishes, such as fried rice variants. Crispy shallot chips are also used in Southern Chinese cuisine. In Indonesia, sometimes it is made into pickle which is usually added in variable kinds of traditional food. Its sourness increases one’s appetite.

The shallot is widely used in the southern part of India. In the Kannada language it is known as ‘Chikk-Eerulli’ and used extensively in snacks, salads, curries and rice varieties. It is called ‘Chuvannulli’ in Malayalam and is used in Sambar (a tamarind-flavoured lentil soup) and different types of kuzhambu (curry).