The term shallot is used to describe two different Allium species of plant. The French grey shallot or griselle, which has been considered to be the “true shallot” by many, is Allium oschaninii, a species that grows wild from Central to Southwest Asia. Other varieties of shallot are Allium cepa var. aggregatum (multiplier onions), also known as A. ascalonicum.
This ambiguity is further confused with scallions, also known as spring or green onions. In some countries, green onions are called shallots, and shallots are referred to by alternative names such as eschallot or eschalotte.
The shallot is a relative of the onion, and tastes a bit like an onion but has a sweeter, milder flavor. They tend to be more expensive than onions, especially in the United States, however they can be stored for at least 6 months.
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 should not be planted on ground recently manured. They come to maturity about July or August, although they can now be found year-round in supermarkets.
Similar to onions, raw shallots release chemicals that irritate the eye when sliced, resulting in tears. See onion for a discussion of this phenomenon.
In Australia, the foodstuff industry has renamed a number of vegetables. The name shallot has been applied to scallions, normally called spring onions in Australia, and shallots have been renamed eschalotte. The term French shallot has also been used for Allium oschaninii.
There is a very specific region of shallot gardening in southeastern Ghana.
It is widely used in the southern part of India. In Kannada language it is known as 'Eerulli' and used extensively in snacks, salads, curries and rice varieties. In Tamil it is called Sambar Vengayam and Kochulli in Malayalam and is used in Sambar (a type of curry) and different types of kuzhambu(curry).