Shallots probably originated in Asia, traveling from there to India and the eastern Mediterranean. The name “shallot” comes from Ashkelon, presently a city in Israel, where people in classical Greek times believed shallots originated. It is a relative of the onion, and tastes a bit like an onion, but has a sweeter, milder flavor. Finely sliced deep-fried shallots are used as a condiment in Asian cuisine.
Like garlic, shallots are formed in clusters of offsets with a head composed of multiple cloves. Their skin color can vary from golden brown to gray to rose red, and their off-white flesh is usually tinged with green or magenta. Shallots are much favored by chefs because of their firm texture and sweet, aromatic yet pungent flavor.
Shallots are propagated by offsets, which, in the Northern Hemisphere, are often planted in September or October, but the principal crop should not be planted earlier than February or the beginning of March. In planting, the tops of the bulbs should be kept a little above ground, and it is a commendable plan to draw away the soil surrounding the bulbs when their roots have taken hold. They come to maturity about July or August, although in cooler climates they can be harvested later.
The shallot in Iran is often crushed into yogurt. Iranians enjoy yogurt in this way, especially in restaurants and Kebab-Saras where 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 flavor. 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.