Crispy fried shallots, garlic or onions – how to!

I didn’t make any of the above on my mega condiment marathon, in fact I always buy my crispy fried shallots but seeing as the last post was all about alliums, I thought I’d put this up as an addendum – ‘cos you can’t buy them everywhere, and you have to make your own fried onions for biryanis. There are a few tips to getting them crispy without burning them. The shallots used in Asia are the little pink ones you can buy in Vietnamese or African shops, and they and garlic get cut lengthways – onions for biryani generally get across into rings.

Whichever way you cut, they should be fine, 1-2 mm for shallots and garlic, 2-3mm for onions and uniformly sliced – otherwise, some will be in danger of burning and some will remain decidedly uncrisp.

After they’re cut, spread them out and leave them to dry for several hours – all alliums have quite a lot of juice and contain a high level of plant sugars, which contributes to them burning if you don’t do this. In winter, when it’s cold and damp, I put mine on a tray and set it on the radiator.

When you’re ready to cook them, heat a small amount of vegetable oil in a pan or a wok until it is hot, drop in the slivers, turn the heat down to low and watch closely. You want them to be golden brown, but they will continue to cook even after you take them out of the pan. Drain on kitchen towel.

If you’ve made a big batch, they can be stored in a screw top jar after they are cool, but don’t add any salt ‘cos they’ll go soft and leathery. Salt just before serving, if at all.


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