Timut pepper comes from the Zanthoxylum genus, which belongs to the citrus family, and is the brother of the Sichuan pepper, also called Szechuan peppercorn, popular in Chinese cuisine. Smaller and darker than Sichuan pepper, timut pepper has the unique aroma of grapefruit, and is a must-try!
Timut (or timur pepper as it’s commonly called) is collected by farmers in the Nepal Mountains and is an integral part of Nepalese cuisine. The citrus qualities make timut pepper perfect for fish dishes, and timut pepper is also used in homemade Nepali pickles, chicken chili, dry vegetable dishes, especially with potatoes, and in tomato-based dishes and curries. Nepalese people also mix timut pepper with cloves of garlic, mountain salt and warm water, to help soothe stomach or digestive problems.
It is rare to see timut peppercorns in grocery stores in the United States, but you can find them in specialty shops and markets. Timut pepper is trendy because it can add an exotic flavor to your favorite dishes, especially those that contain fish. Take inspiration from Nepalese cuisine and see what’s cooking!
Benefits of Timut Pepper
Timut pepper contains phytochemicals and nutrients including potassium, vitamin A, iron, manganese, zinc, copper, phosphorus, and carotenes, similar to the nutrients in Sichuan pepper. Most of the scientific studies have been done using Sichuan pepper, but keep in mind that the benefits of sichuan pepper can also be offered by timut pepper. So, what are the health benefits to be gained from peppering your food with timut?
Timut pepper contains high levels of iron, and adding it to your diet can help protect against iron deficiency anemia. The iron contained in timut peppercorns helps supply the body with hemoglobin to oxygenate red blood cells and optimize the circulatory system.
These black peppercorns contain antioxidants and organic acids that have anti-inflammatory effects. The compounds in timut pepper can neutralize the free radicals that cause inflammation and stop it at the root. When consumed regularly and with relish (with great enjoyment and the condiment), timut pepper can also help prevent health conditions such as arthritis, cancer, and other chronic diseases, which are caused by an excessive amount of free radicals responsible for cell mutation.
Zinc plays a critical role in boosting the immune system. The high levels of zinc in timut peppers can help fortify the immune system. The immune system gets even more help from the abundance of antioxidants in timut pepper. Not to mention, this unique peppercorn’s antifungal and antiviral properties, which increase the positive effect of zinc on the immune system.
When you are sick, appetite does not come easy—but your body needs nutrients to get strong, especially when it is working hard to heal. Various compounds found in timut pepper can stimulate the appetite and accelerate your metabolism so that your body absorbs energy and nutrients from the foods you eat faster—so you can recover faster.
Timut pepper contains the important bone-building minerals iron, phosphorus, copper, and manganese. A diet rich in these minerals helps to protect against chronic bone loss ailments like osteoporosis. As we age, our bone mineral density declines, and it becomes even more important to consume mineral-dense foods like timut pepper.
By reducing inflammation in the gut, timut pepper can boost the digestive system and give the metabolism a kick. The compounds in timut pepper can also help prevent common tummy troubles, like water retention, cramping, and constipation, all of which can be a straight path to more chronic and debilitating conditions, such as colorectal cancer or gastritis.
Potassium helps arteries and blood vessels relax, thereby keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels in the healthy range, protecting you from cardiovascular complications like heart attacks and strokes. What does this mean for your health? The plentiful potassium in timut pepper can strengthen your heart.
Timut pepper also contains beta-carotene, which can help with vision. This powerful antioxidant helps reduce oxidative stress in the ocular system and keep the retina healthy. It also lowers the risk of macular degeneration and vision loss.
Cooking with Timut Pepper
We can look to the Bhotiya tribal community from Uttaranchal, India for a traditional way to use the whole fruit of the timut pepper—as a winter soup called hag and as dunkcha, a chutney condiment.
The seeds and husk are notoriously hot and well-known for causing a tingling sensation in the lips and mouth as well as temporary numbness to whatever body part it comes in contact with.