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Jan 11, 2005 05:58 PM

Timur aka Nepal Pepper?

  • i

Is this really the same as Szechuan pepper?

Who sells it?

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  1. They're not necessarily the same. According to Gernot Katzer's site, Sichuan Pepper is "Xanthoxylum piperitum" while Nepal Pepper is "Xanthoxylum alatum"


    6 Replies
    1. re: Gary Soup
      Michelle Burns

      Szechuan Peppers are illegal for importation into the US because the plants carry a disease that can kill citrus plants. Although they can't prove that it's possible for the peppercorns to transmit the disease they've been banned too. The law isn't always strictly enforced though and you can find a few places that sell them and some asian groceries will sell them unlabeled so you have to ask for them. One site I did find that used to sell them is CMC company they sell usually for about $30/lb but that is a huge amount of peppercorns. The link is below. They have a fragrant and slightly spicy kind of tingly flavor on the tongue. They need to be briefly toasted before you grind them and add them to your dish.


      1. re: Michelle Burns
        culinary nerd

        I thought that they were legal to import again if they were heat-treated.

        At least, I thought I had read that somewhere here at Chowhounds, at some time in the recent past.

        1. re: culinary nerd

          "At least, I thought I had read that somewhere here at Chowhounds, at some time in the recent past. "

          Yup. See link.


          1. re: freply

            Yes, and after posting the info in that thread I went out jonesing for Sichuan Peppercorns in San Francisco Chinatown and found them openly on sale at $7.59/lb. They were labeled "Red Prickly Ash" in English and as "Sichuan hua jiao" in Chinese.

            Th question remains, though, whether Sichuan Peppercorn and Nepal Pepper are interchangeable. According to the Gernot Katzer site, there seem to be a number of variants. I think I've read before that the Japanese variety (Fagara?), for example, is not as potent as the Sichuan variety. Caution may be the watchword if Sichuan Peppercorns are substituted for Nepal Pepper.


            1. re: Gary Soup

              Sansho is the name of the Japanese species of prickly ash and is quite different. Somewhere on the Intl Board, foodfirst has reported spotting baskets of seeds that look very much like hua jiao in the markets of Northern Thailand. In a complex northern Thai curry served at one of our local restaurants (Thai Avenue, which had/has? a northern Thai cook in charge), VI has also detected hints of something reminiscent of Szechuan peppercorn. Perhaps there is a northern Thai species (or cultivar) as well...?

              1. re: Gary Soup

                They're not the same. Sichuan pepper is reddish, whereas timur is dark brown. While they both create the characteristic tingling sensation, the flavor is different. The Sichuan variety tastes brighter, citrusy and is all high notes. Timur has roasted undertones and is mostly mid to low notes. I notice the different effect that each has on a dish. However, the main desired effect is the tingle, so I find them to be adequate substitutes for each other.

                It was almost impossible to find timur for sale in the US when the OP started this thread. In NYC, it can be purchased at Himalayan Mini Mart in Woodside, Queens.

      2. An interesting (to me, anyway) aside: The Mongol name of the conqueror Tamerlaine was Timur Lenk, meaning, literally "filled thing" and "lame."

        3 Replies
        1. re: Perilagu Khan

          Timur as in 'The Lame' is a Turkic name meaning steel or iron. Timur the berry is not a cognate, it is a Nepalese word.

          Interesting to know that Nepalese Timur is not the same as Szechuanese Hua Jiao. Nepalese timur is not available where I live but the Szechuanese pepper corn is. I have a Nepalese friend who complains that the timur at the Chinese markets here is old and weak and has no smell. It must actually be due to the fact that it is a different spice that she has this perception of the difference, I guess.

          1. re: luckyfatima

            But Timur means "iron" because when the bronze age Turko-Mongol people first encountered iron they were so amazed by its strength that they believed it must be "filled" with something. Anyway, off topic, but an interesting aside.

            1. re: luckyfatima

              The stuff available at the most Chinese markets is very bad quality. They're stale and weak, no matter how much you use, and are riddled with stems and seeds - it's almost not worth using it. Sichuan pepper is a spice for which it really pays off to buy from a reputable spice merchant. While I find The Spice House's prices to be generally very high when compared to ethnic markets, I will only buy Sichuan pepper from them (or Penzey's in a pinch). The high quality stuff is like sucking on a fresh 9-volt battery. No joke.

          2. It's not the same, and at the time this was asked, was impossible to get. Both Szechuan peppercorns and timut/timur were made legal around...2008, I think? At any rate, timut has a distinctly different taste, less sharp, bright, and lemony, more...grapefruit, or passionfruit is what it really tastes more like to me. Still anaesthetic, but not as aggressively so as Szechuan peppercorns.

            Timur can be found in the west, but it's an almighty pain to get. The only importers I can find are both based in France:

            Terre Exotique:

            ...and Thiercelin (website is entirely in French

            There are a scant few US websites that appear to have just bought from one or the other (generally Terre Exotique) at retail, and resell at a hefty markup. I got VERY lucky that my dad and stepmom took a trip to Paris last month, and went into a very large market which had a whole table full of Terre Exotique products. Buying direct like that, it was almost absurdly cheap. So they bought 3. Now I have 3 tins of these, and am trying to figure out what to do with all this timut.

            Of course, it's not the best quality. They often still have the actual seeds in them, which have a different, bitter flavor than the outer petals, and if you're unlucky enough to bite down on them, produce LITERALLY the same sensation, minus pain, of breaking a tooth (something I wish I wasn't familiar with).

            3 Replies
            1. re: Mordecai

              I got some Nepalese timur at an Indian grocery store in the Northern Virginia area a couple of months ago. I use it to make spicy tomato-red chile chutney, although I haven't made momos to go with the chutney since I made the purchase.

              The place is Indian owned, but the cashier is Nepalese. I remarked to her that this was the first time I had seen timur in the US, and typically I only find Chinese Sichuan peppercorn. She said that when they have it, she uses the Nepali one, when they don't she uses the Sichuanese one from a Chinese grocery.

              I didn't have any Sichuanese peppercorn on hand to compare it with the Nepali timur to see how similar or different they really are.

              1. re: Mordecai

                I took a picture of it for you. It cost me $2.99 for 3.5 oz, which is looks like it's about a cup and a half.

                It is very strong smelling so it is good stuff. Perhaps anyone interested could contact Gurudev imports at the number on the bag, or ask your local Indian grocer to source it for you. If there are a lot of Nepalese in your area, an Indian grocery might have it as well as other Nepali products. (I think only in major cities which have a huge Nepalese population would you actually find a Nepalese grocery. My area has a huge Nepali population but no Nepalese grocery.)


                1. re: luckyfatima

                  This is great! Can't find it anywhere on the internet aside from your very post. I've sent them a message asking if they distribute anywhere around Boston. There are a few Indian groceries about, but I never noticed this in any of the ones I've been in. Granted, I wasn't looking, so... <_<

                  Thankyou so much!

              2. In Philadelphia you can find timur at Friendly Market, in South Philly. You can see an image of the brand in my recent blog post: http://asianmarketsphilly.wordpress.c...