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I am an Allium lover with a strong allergy to all Alliums. It is technically a sensitivity as it isn't an instant reaction, but spending an hour in the bathroom because of one stray piece of red onion warrants a scarrier word then "sensitivity". For those not familiar with plant taxonomy Alliums are the plant family that holds garlic, onions, chives, and leeks.

My allergy is progressively getting stronger and I can no longer lie to myself, I need a good substitute for that fantastic allium taste. Right now I can still eat garlic in reasonable amounts (thank god), but red onions are right out, and everything else from white onions to leeks is somewhere in between. Any and all preparations of allium trigger the allergy, so no onion powder.

I am desperatly looking for a non-allium onion substitute. My hope and dream is something that tastes like onion but isn't an allium, but I would accept any strongly flavoured class of plants to switch addictions to.

Heather F

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related: (possible duplicate, although that one didn't say all aliums were an issue) – Joe Jun 12 '14 at 18:15
Sorry, I missed that one in my search. I shall have to be more thourough in the future. – user25399 Jun 12 '14 at 18:28
With a wife who has dealt with a true honest, deathly allergy to onions, please distinguish between an allergy and a severe intolerance or sensitivity. My wife's reactions in the past have included instant hospital trips to emergency because of a minor cross contamination. I'm not saying you do or don't have an allergy, but as there is a difference, it'd be helpful if you didn't use the terms interchangeably. People may need to take different precautions when dealing with someone with a severe allergy. Thanks... – talon8 Jun 12 '14 at 18:44
up vote 7 down vote accepted

The perfect solution to you - Use the Indian spice called "Asafoetida" or "Hing". It gives a taste which is very much like Onion and Garlic - In fact, stricter practitioners of Hinduism are not allowed to eat onion and garlic (as supposedly they cause mental agitation). Thus, traditional Hindu (Vedic) cooking uses Asafoetida as a subsitute for onion in Indian recipes which almost invariably call for the use of onions.

The spice gives off a slightly funky smell (I like it, but most people describe it as bad), but tastes great. It is easily available in powdered form in Indian grocery stores - and usually comes in small containters such as this:

enter image description here

It has a VERY strong taste, so put a very small amount of it - about a 1/4 of a teaspoon for a dish that's meant or 4 people. Usually in Indian cooking it is quickly fried to get rid of the "raw" taste. I am not sure how well it tastes in salads, you'd have to experiment with it.

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For the salad front, you might be able to cook it in the oil, then cool and use the oil to make a vinaigrette. – Joe Jun 12 '14 at 18:14

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