The timut pepper is a unique, versatile spice that’s probably unlike anything you’ve had before.
Also known as “Nepalese pepper” or the timur pepper, the timut pepper isn’t actually a pepper.
This Nepali spice is a “false pepper,” like its relative, the Sichuan pepper. Timut peppercorns are the berry husks of the zanthoxylum armatum plant, which is native to Nepal and regions adjacent to the Himalayan country. In Nepal, the timut is found in forests in the Mahabarat mountain range.
The timut pepper has strong citrusy notes of grapefruit. Like the Sichuan pepper, it literally makes your tongue tingle. The tingling sensation is arguably more pronounced with the timut pepper. It can also make your tongue and lips feel numb. But, like many false peppers, it offers very little heat.
If heat is what you’re looking for, the timut pepper isn’t where it’s at. But if you’re looking for something out of left field, a spice to elevate and add complex flavor profiles to your main course or drinks, the timut pepper is a perfect choice.
How Can I Use the Timut Pepper?
The timut pepper can be used to season chicken or fish dishes, salads, desserts, and cold beverages. It’s really versatile.
In Nepali cuisine, the timut pepper is used to flavor momos (dumplings), thukpa (noodle soup), chutneys, and achaar (pickles).
For main courses, it pairs well with cinnamon, fenugreek, honey, and mint, as well as tahini. We recently baked chicken generously marinated in these ingredients, with the tahini and timut pepper doing the heavy lifting together. The flavor and scent were both elegant and pleasing.
Timut pepper adds a fruity, tingly flavor to desserts like ice cream, and depth to drinks, including non-alcoholic aperitifs. Consider adding it to your vanilla gelato or ice cream. Or to a mocktail with fennel, lemon, and rhubarb juices. You might want to throw in some cardamom and star anise:-)
Where Can I Get Timut Pepper?
Timut pepper is hard to find at physical retailers in the United States, though it is available at stores that carry McCormick’s Gourmet Global Selects brand.
Fortunately, timut pepper is easily available online.
Amazon also sells timut peppercorns by Peugeot and The Spice Lab. Both items are highly-rated. So you’re unlikely to be disappointed by any of the options. However, if you don’t have a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, McCormick is your best bet. It is the most convenient among the three options.
What Are the Timut Pepper’s Health Benefits?
It’s said that timut pepper has some medicinal and therapeutic attributes, potentially lowering blood pressure, relieving indigestion, and alleviating pain. The bark of the timut shrub is also used to brush teeth. We’re unaware of peer-reviewed, scientific studies validating these claims. So please take them with a grain of salt.
Timut pepper could be good for your brain. According to a study in the peer-reviewed Nutrients journal, zanthoxylum armatum “improves aspects of cognitive performance” including “the speed of performing tasks.” Timut or timur essential oil is also used for perfume and aromatherapy.
The jury’s still out on the timut pepper’s health benefits. But what we can say with complete confidence is that when it comes to flavor, timut pepper knocks it out of the park.