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Whole shallots
SpeciesAllium cepa
Cultivar groupAggregatum Group
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Whole shallots
SpeciesAllium cepa
Cultivar groupAggregatum Group

The shallot (Allium cepa var. aggregatum, or the A. cepa Aggregatum Group) is a botanical variety of the species Allium cepa, to which the multiplier onion also belongs.[1] The shallot was formerly classified as a separate species, A. ascalonicum, a name now considered a synonym of the currently accepted name.[2] The genus Allium, which includes onions and garlic as well as shallots, is now classified in the plant family Amaryllidaceae, but was formerly considered to belong to the separate family Alliaceae.


Shallots, a.k.a Small Onions in South India is extensively used in South Indian Cuisines.

Shallots probably originated in Central or Southeast Asia, travelling from there to India and the eastern Mediterranean. The name "shallot" comes from Ashkelon, an ancient Philistine city,[3] where people in classical Greek times believed shallots originated.[4]

Indian names for shallots include kanda or gandana or pyaaz (Hindi, Marathi, Marwari and Punjabi), gundhun (Bengali), cheriya ulli or chuvanna ulli (Malayalam) and chinna vengayam (or sambar vengayam in the Chennai region) (Tamil). In the Kashmiri language, shallots are called praan. In Nepal, shallots are called chyapi (छ्यापी).

In Southeastern Asia, shallots are called bawang merah kecil (small red onions) in Malay, brambang in Java, and hom (หอม, fragrant) in Thai. In Cambodian (Khmer), shallots are called katem kror hom, where katem or ktem is a species of onion, and kror hom or hom meaning "red", describes their colour.

The name shallot is also used for the Persian shallot (A. stipitatum), from the Zagros Mountains in Iran and Iraq. The term shallot is further used for the French gray shallot or griselle (Allium oschaninii), a species referred to as "true shallot"; [4] it grows wild from Central to Southwest Asia. In Australia, the term shallot can also refer to scallions (from various species of Allium)[citation needed], while the term eschalot, derived from the French word échalote, can also be used to refer to the shallot described in this article.[5]

Description and cultivation[edit]

Shallot plant (A. cepa var. aggregatum) growing in Castelltallat, Spain
Onion and shallot output in 2005

Like garlic, shallots are formed in clusters of offsets with a head composed of multiple cloves. The skin colour of shallots can vary from golden brown to gray to rose red, and their off-white flesh is usually tinged with green or magenta.

Shallots as sold in shops

Shallots are extensively cultivated for culinary uses, propagated by offsets. In some regions ("long-season areas"), the offsets are usually planted in autumn (September or October in the Northern Hemisphere).[6] In some other regions, the suggested planting time for the principal crop is early spring (typically in February or the beginning of March in the Northern Hemisphere).[7]

In planting, the tops of the bulbs should be kept a little above ground, and the soil surrounding the bulbs is often drawn away when the roots have taken hold. They come to maturity in summer (about July or August in the Northern Hemisphere), although fresh shallots can now be found year-round in supermarkets. Shallots should not be planted on ground recently manured.

In Africa, shallots are grown in the area around Anloga in southeastern Ghana.[8]

Culinary uses[edit]

Shallots, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy301 kJ (72 kcal)
Carbohydrates16.8 g
- Sugars7.87 g
- Dietary fiber3.2 g
Fat0.1 g
Protein2.5 g
Thiamine (vit. B1)0.06 mg (5%)
Riboflavin (vit. B2)0.02 mg (2%)
Niacin (vit. B3)0.2 mg (1%)
Pantothenic acid (B5)0.29 mg (6%)
Vitamin B60.345 mg (27%)
Folate (vit. B9)34 μg (9%)
Vitamin C8 mg (10%)
Calcium37 mg (4%)
Iron1.2 mg (9%)
Magnesium21 mg (6%)
Manganese0.292 mg (14%)
Phosphorus60 mg (9%)
Potassium334 mg (7%)
Zinc0.4 mg (4%)
Link to USDA Database entry
Percentages are roughly approximated
using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Shallots are used in fresh cooking in addition to being pickled. Finely sliced, deep-fried shallots are used as a condiment in Asian cuisine, often served with porridge. As a species of Allium, shallots taste somewhat like a common onion, but have a milder flavour.[9] Like onions and garlic, when sliced, raw shallots release substances that irritate the eye, resulting in production of tears.

Shallots appear to contain more flavonoids and phenols than other members of the onion genus.[10]

Fresh shallots can be stored in cool, dry area (32 to 40 °F, 60 to 70% RH) for six months or longer.[11] Chopped, dried shallots are also available.[12]


Shallots for sale in southern France

In Europe, the Pikant, Atlas and Ed's Red types of shallots are the most common.[citation needed] In parts of southern France, the grey type is grown widely.[4]


In Indian cuisines, the distinction between onions and shallots is weak; larger varieties of shallot are often confused with small red onions and used interchangeably. Indeed, most parts of India use the regional name for onion interchangeably with shallot (Maharashtra, for instance, where both are called kanda). The southern regions of India distinguish shallots from onions in recipes more often, especially the much loved tiny varieties (about the width of a finger); these are widely used in curries and different types of sambar, a lentil-based dish. Shallots pickled in red vinegar are common in many Indian restaurants, served along with sauces and papad on the condiments tray. Indians also use it[clarification needed] as a home remedy for sore throats, mixed with jaggery or sugar. In Nepal, shallots are used as one of the ingredients for making momo. In Kashmir shallots are widely used in preparation of Wazwan Kashmiri cuisine, as they add distinct flavour and prevents curry from getting black which is a common problem with the onions.

In Iran, shallots, called mousir (موسیر), are used in various ways, the most common being grated shallot mixed into dense yogurt, a combination served in almost every restaurant when one orders grills or kebabs. Shallots are also used to make different types of torshi (ترشی), a sour Iranian side dish consisting of a variety of vegetables under vinegar, eaten with main dishes in small quantities. Shallot is also pickled -called shour (شور) in Persian- along with other vegetables to be served as torshi.

In Southeast Asian cuisines, such as those of Brunei, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Indonesia, both shallots and garlic (bawang putih, white onions) are 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. Shallots enhance the flavour of many Southeast Asian dishes, such as fried rice variants. Crispy shallot chips are also used in southern Chinese cuisine. In Indonesia, shallots are sometimes made into pickles that are added to several traditional foods; the pickles' sourness is thought to increase one's appetite.

It is one of the pungent vegetables generally avoided by Buddhist vegetarians.


  1. ^ Fritsch, R. M.; N. Friesen (2002). "Chapter 1: Evolution, Domestication, and Taxonomy". In H. D. Rabinowitch and L. Currah. Allium Crop Science: Recent Advances. Wallingford, UK: CABI Publishing. p. 21. ISBN 0-85199-510-1. 
  2. ^ "Allium ascalonicum information". Germplasm Resources Information Network. USDA. Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  3. ^ "shallot". New Oxford American Dictionary (Second ed.). Oxford University Press. 2005. ISBN 978-0-19-517077-1. 
  4. ^ a b c Green, Aliza (2004), Field Guide to Produce: How to Identify, Select, and Prepare Virtually Every Fruit and Vegetable at the Market, Quirk Books, p. 256, ISBN 978-1931686808 
  5. ^ "Dictionary: eschalot". Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Retrieved December 4, 2013. 
  6. ^ Hunt, Marjorie B. and Bortz, Brenda (1986), High-Yield Gardening, Pennsylvania: Rodale Press, ISBN 0-87857-599-5 
  7. ^ Seabrook, Peter (1976), Complete Vegetable Gardener, London: Cassell, ISBN 978-0-304-29738-2 
  8. ^ Sinnadurai, Suppiah (1973), Shallot Farming in Ghana, New York: Economic Botany, ISBN 0-87857-599-5 
  9. ^ "Kitchen Dictionary: shallot". Scripps Networks. Retrieved December 4, 2013. 
  10. ^ Yang, J., Meyers, K. J., van der Heide, J. and Liu, R. H. (2004). "Varietal differences in phenolic content, and antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of onions". J. Agric. Food Chem 52 (21): 6787–6793. doi:10.1021/jf0307144. PMID 15506817. 
  11. ^ "Onions, Garlic, and Shallots". Virginia Cooperative Extension. May 1, 2009. Retrieved March 13, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Shallots, Freeze Dried". McCormick & Co. Inc. 2011. Retrieved March 13, 2013.