As I was testing some of Kachi’s recipes the other day, I noticed one recipe called for 10 chopped shallots. At $4.99 a pound I was starting to expect it would be a very expensive lentil dish. Hmm. In my mind, I reduced the number to three shallots given the small amount of other ingredients included in the recipe. Before I could forget this “correction” I made a note in the recipe.

Large American shallots beside smaller Indian shallots.

Large American shallots beside smaller Indian shallots.


Just this morning I visited one of my local Indian grocery stores and noticed they had shallots for $2.99 per pound. I immediately grabbed a plastic bag to fill with these bargain bulbs. As I started to fill the bag, I realized that these shallots were much smaller than the ones I buy at the chain stores! If this is an indication of another variation in species between the U.S. and India, I was beginning to understand why Kachi’s recipe called for 10 shallots! These were about a quarter of the size of mine!

When my husband returned home from work, he confirmed that shallots in India are much smaller than ours. This spurred me to conduct a not-so-scientific experiment.

Indian Shallot and American Shallot Comparison

American Shallot Indian Shallot
Weight 2 1/2 ounces 1/2 ounce
Chopped 1/2 cup 1-2 tablespoons
Flavor mild flavor stronger flavor

Based on what I learned in my experiment, any differences in color and texture between the two types, when both raw and cooked, were indistinguishable. The difference in taste and smell was small enough to make me indifferent between the two options. Since they are so similar, I make my selection based on the amount of shallot I need to use. If a recipe only needs a tablespoon, I use the Indian shallot so there will be no waste or left over pieces. When a recipe calls for a lot of shallot I use the American ones to reduce the amount of time I have to spend peeling the little ones.


In conclusion, if a recipe calls for 10 chopped shallots, think through the recipe and decide if the author intended American or Indian shallots to be used and make an adjustment in the recipe, if needed. Both are delicious and should be used as you wish.


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2 Thoughts on “Indian Shallots vs. American Shallots

  1. This is really useful, thanks!

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