Shallots are annual herbaceous plants. Underground bulbs comprise garlic-like cloves. Shallot bulbs contain a volatile oil, and are used as flavouring or seasoning agents. Shallots are used to ease stomach discomfort, and as antidiarrrhoeal, expectorant, diuretic and antiflu agents.
Shallots come in small clusters, like garlic, and are brown in colour. Shallots are an important ingredient in Asian and French cooking and it is even better, of course, if you can find Asian shallots for Asian cooking (rather than the French variety), which are a similar size but are purple or red in colour and somewhat sweeter. Onions can be used as a substitute.
Widely used in Balinese cooking, pounded up to make spice pastes, sliced and added to food before cooking, and sliced and deep fried to make a garnish. Balinese shallots are smaller and milder than those found in the West, so you may need to reduce the amount called for in Balinese recipes.
Shallots are also used widely in South India in place of the larger onion common to the North. In places like Goa, they are hung in kitchens like long ropes to be plucked off at will.
From the Onions Series
- Balinese Bawang Goreng (Fried Shallots)
- Crispy Battered Onion Rings
- Kachumber – Indian Tomato, Cucumber and Onion Salad