METRO PLUS

Why shallots are special

For glowing skin Eat shallots

For glowing skin Eat shallots  

Eating them daily helps in the growth of bone tissue and reduces the risk of osteoporosis

Shallot refers to two different Allium species of plant. The French grey shallot or griselle, considered to be the ‘true shallot’ by many, is Allium oschaninii, a species which grows wild from Central to Southwest Asia. The word ‘shallot’ derives from the name of the city of Ashkelon (Latin ‘Ascalon’) in ancient Canaan, in Italian its name is ‘scalogno.’

Unlike onions, where each plant normally forms a single bulb, shallots form clusters of offsets, rather in the manner of garlic.

The shallot has other differences as well. The taste has been described as sweeter than the mildest onion. A slight apple flavour mingles with the familiar onion bite. Shallots have proved to be more digestible than the rest of the family and have less of an impact on the breath.

Two varieties of shallots exist. The ruddy-brown bulb is common in the U.S. A pink skinned variety that is longer and thinner, prized by cooks, is more readily available in other parts of the world. Shallots are similar in size to a head of garlic and often have two bulbs within their papery skin. This skin and the outer layer of each bulb are peeled away, leaving what appears to be a small onion.

Culinary uses

Shallots are extensively cultivated and used in cookery. Finely sliced deep-fried shallots are used as a condiment in Asian cuisine. Shallots are usually more expensive than onions and they are widely used in Malaysian and Thai cuisines.

Medicinal uses

Different analysis and studies have found that shallots contain two sets of compounds — sulphur compounds such as allyl propyl disulphide (APDS) and flavonoids such as quercetin.

Flavonoid consumption has been associated with a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes since they are anti-cancer, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory.

Recent studies have shown the potential health benefits of common onions and established that shallots are particularly effective against liver cancer cells. Shallots help the liver eliminate toxins from the body and have saponins to inhibit and kill cancer cells.

Shallots are specifically linked to inhibiting stomach cancer. They produce an anti-coagulant that thins the blood and exhibit strong anti-platelet activity and are good for patients who have symptomatic atherosclerotic disease, cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke. Shallots can lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes by preventing the degradation of insulin and increasing metabolism of glucose. Eating shallots daily helps in the growth of bone tissue and reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis by 20 per cent. The sulphur content in shallots makes skin look younger.

Now for a recipe.

Caramelised Shallot and Roquefort Dip

Ingredients

Vegetable oil: 2 tbsp

Thinly sliced shallots (about 6 ounces): one and a quarter cups

Mayonnaise: three quarter cup Sour cream: three quarter cup

Roquefort or Danish blue cheese, at room temperature: 4 ounces

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Potato chips, for serving

Method: In a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and cover. Cook, stirring often, until the shallots are deep golden brown for about 20 minutes. Cool completely. In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise and sour cream. Add the cheese and mash with a rubber spatula until almost smooth. Stir in the cooled shallots and season with the pepper. Cover and refrigerate until chilled for about 2 hours

Chef’s tip: The dip can be made up to two days ahead, covered and refrigerated. If too thick, thin with milk before serving.

N. GOPI

Sous Chef, Taj Connemara

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