Dalchini, cinamon

Dalchini, Cinnamon

Binomial name Cinnamomum cassia (L.) J.Presl

Dalchini or cinamon as we know is the dried inner bark of a small evergreen tree [rookh in nepali] named Cinnamomum zeylanicum [a tree native to Sri Lanka and India]. The inner bark is dried and grind into powder or broken into pieces. It is not commercially grown in Nepal though it can been seen growing wild in mid to high altitutes of Nepal. There are two similar types of cinnamon trees Cinnamomum zeylanicum [a true cinnamon tree native to Srilanka and India] and Cinnamomum cassia (L.) Presl [Chinese cinnamon]. Most people suggest that the Chinese Cinnamon is slightly bitter than the true cinnamon. Most commercial ground cinnamon is a mixture of both or only Chinese cinnamon. A possible factor maybe the availability and prices of both kinds. But the trees that are grown wild in Nepal are the true cinnamon trees. Dalchini tree leaves and bark have an aromatic, spicy scent. It has small, yellow-white flowers that supposedly have a slightly disagreeable odor, and bears small, dark purple, inedible berries.

Dalchini tastes sweet, aromatic, sharp and spicy. 

Dalchini is an important spice in some Nepalese food and beverages like tea, kheer, selroti etc. It is basically used as flavoring ingredient.

Commercially, Cinnamon flavor is used in perfumes, candles, toothpicks, soda, rum, vodka, candy etc…

References :

http://thespicejournal.com/about-spice-nepal/spices-of-nepal/

http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/motm/cinnamaldehyde/cinnh.htm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/17/cinnamon-comes-from_n_4963435.html

http://www.thehomesteadgarden.com/the-spice-series-cinnamon-part-two/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-cinnamon#section9

https://nomadicboys.com/nepalese-kheer-rice-pudding-recipe/

Pyaj, onion

Pyaj,onion

Binomial name Allium cepa.

Red onions are generalized as pyaj in Nepal. Though there are many types of onions, only red onions are grown popularly.

Pyaj are round in shape sized from a golf ball to a little bigger than tennis ball. They have red and purplish color which are beautifully layered into white skin.

Pyaj taste spicy when raw but sweet when cooked.

Pyaj is an important ingredient in daily Nepalese kitchen. It is cooked initially in prior to addition of most of the vegetables and meat cooking. It is also a necessary garnish in some famous dishes like Sekuwa [stir-fried meat], Bhuteko Chana [fried bengal gram], Usineko Chana [boiled bengal gram etc. Hariyo pyaj [spring onions or scallions] are known for cooking with with fried rice, chowmein, gundruk [dried fermented greens], kinema [fermented soybeans and many more.

An Indian authentic dish Pyaj ko Pakoda [battter-fried onions] is a very famous food sold in Nepalese restaurants and streets. They are crunchy, sweet and spicy snack served in parties.

Red onions are grown all throughout the year.

References:

https://www.slideshare.net/ShankarPaudel1/off-season-onion-production-in-nepal

http://www.asiafarming.com/onion-farming-information/

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/8-great-reasons-to-eat-more-onions.html

http://sherpasisters.com/sherpanichef/blog/2014/02/10/pyagji-onion-pakora-onion-fritters/

http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2501/2

sukmel, cardamom

Sukmel or sukumel, Cardamom

Scientific classification as family of Zingiberaceae.

Sukmel pods and skins are aromatic, tastes spicy, distinctive, and somewhat floral.

Sukmel is not popularly grown in Nepal. It is produced in tropical regions of India, Malaysia and other Asian countries. Only black cardamom is widely grown and also exported to other parts of the world. Basically, sukmel has been imported from India and claimed to be another expensive spice in the world.

In Nepali kitchen, Sukmel is used as an optional ingredient in milk tea. Soaked Sukmel water can be used to cook the Indian style Pulawo [spiced rice dish]. It is also one of the major ingredients of Indian garam masala, which is widely famous in Nepal for meat dishes.

References –

http://www.nepjol.info/index.php/HR/article/viewFile/4506/3754

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/herbs-and-spices/health-benefits-of-cardamom.html

Tejpat, bayleaf

Tejpat, bay leaf

Binomial name Cinnamomum tamala. Tejpat [Indian bayleaf] grows in tropical and subtropical areas of the Himalayas at altitudes of 300 and 2400 meters and comes originally from Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim and North India.

Tejpat [aka bayleaf in Europe and tejpatta in India] is a one of the key ingredients to make Indian style garam masala in Nepali kitchen. Tejpat is used to cook Khasiko masu [Mutton stew], pulau [a famous rice dish cooked with nuts and herbs] and Indian style tea etc.

The basic purpose of tejpat in Nepali cooking is also to balance the overpowering flavor and taste of any meat or vegetables. The pleasant smell of tejpat also enhances the food and makes it even more rich and delicious. Because of its distinctive fragrance, one or two leaves only is more than enough for an entire dish.

Bay leaf is used  as an fragrance in perfumes, essential oil and scented candles, soaps ets. In some part of India, it is used as a substitute for paan [betel leaves]. It is also used as a clarifier in dyeing.

References –

http://www.jadibutinepal.com/index.php/np/2014-05-16-11-34-11/guidelines-for-cultivation-for-quality-products-np/213-tejpat-cultivation-np

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/herbs-and-spices/bay-leaves.html

http://oneworld-alc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Tejpat.pdf

http://www.nepjol.info/index.php/%EE%80%80BANKO%EE%80%81/article/viewFile/2981/2594

Timur, Szechuan peppers

Timur, szechuan peppercorn

Binomial name Zanthoxylum armatum.

Tastes pungent, spicy, gives a strange numbness in tongue, something like a carbonated drink or a mild electrical shock of 9 volt battery.

Timur is one of the basic spice in everyday Nepali kitchen. Golbhedako achaar [tomato chutney] is made with timur and roasted tomatoes, which accompanies with Daal bhat [lentils and rice, as a staple dish in most Nepali regions]. More famous dishes include MoMo [dumplings], thukpa [noodle soup], chow mein, Phalghi [winter stew of sherpas] etc.

Timur plant’s roots, bark, leaves, fruits and seeds are used for various purposes. The bark, fruits and seeds are extensively used in indigenous system of medicine as a carminative, stomachic and anthelmintic. The stem has exhibited hypoglycemic activity in the preliminary trials. The bark is pungent and used to clean teeth. The fruits and seeds are employed as an aromatic tonic in fever and dysphesia. An extract of the fruits is reported to be effective in expelling roundworms.

More about timur as references –

http://thespicejournal.com/about-spice-nepal/szechuan-pepper-also-known-as-timur-is-one-of-the-few-spices-being-exported-from-nepal-the-primary-export-market-for-nepali-spices-is-india-however-by-distilling-timur-into-essential-oil-many-oth/

http://www.jadibutinepal.com/index.php/our-products/spices/timur

Farsiko phool, pumpkin flower

Farsiko phool, pumpkin flower, pumpkin blossom

Family of Cucurbita pepo L. 

A seasonal flower can be picked right before rainy season.

They are very soft with a mild sweetness and taste somewhat like pumpkin, mushroom,  and meat.

A Nepali style to cook these flowers are with eggs as omelette or scrambled eggs. It can also be cooked with its vines and leaves which is fried with a little oil.

More about Farsiko phool as reference –

http://www.pumpkinnook.com/howto/pollen.htm

https://www.healthbenefitstimes.com/pumpkin-flowers/

http://secretindianrecipe.com/recipe/mathapoo-thoranpumpkin-flower-stir-fry

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9ryjKQW-mY

 

Faparko saag, buckweat shoots

 

Faparko saag, buckwheat shoots. 

Binomial name Fagopyrum Esculentum.

Also called buckwheat lettuce or buckwheat greens. 

They are rich in taste and easy to grow. 

In Nepal, faparko saag are basically cooked like other greens as being seasonal greens. Fapar [buckwheat] is basically grown for grains but people eat the greens as cooked or raw. 

While buckwheat leaves and buckwheat microgreens [sprouts] are indeed edible, these nutrient-dense leaves contain a poisonous substance, fagopyrin, which can make us sick when consumed in large amounts. That is why it is safe to eat while cooked. 

More about buckwheat shoots as reference –

http://www.thedailygardener.com/buckwheat/

http://www.townsendletter.com/Dec2004/buckwheat1204.htm

Rato mula, Nepali red radish

Rato mula, Nepali red radish.

Family of Brassicaceae.

These radishes are also locally known as Pyuthane mula. Various types of mulas are grown in Nepal in different regions like flat lands [terai], hilly regions [pahad] etc. 

These are sharper in taste, actually eye-wateringly spicy but mild sweeter after peeled. The spicier part of radishes are actually the skin. So while cooking them, peel if we don’t want spicy or leave the skin on for spicy, vice versa. 

Mula greens are very crunchy and delicious. We can eat it raw [kaacho], just avoid those hair coming out of greens which can be a little stinging sometimes. It can also be stir fried like other greens [bhuteko mulako saag].

Few popular dishes which are made from mula are jarred pickles, kacho mulako achar [fresh radish pickles], green salad, Nepali mula tarkari [curry] etc. 

Mula is cut into small pieces and fermented to make Sinki [sun-dried radishes] and the greens fermented to make Gundruk [a popular fermented greens). Both make a fantastic dish when cooked together. 

Mulas as cut and sun dried are called mulako chana.

Mulas are also sun dried as whole uncut which is called Samjhana. These are boiled prior to cooking.  

A popular street food Pani Puri [originated from India] have also started mashed radishes on their dipping sauce to make it more spicier. 

More references about radish- 

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/health-benefits-of-radish.html

http://www.foodpleasureandhealth.com/2017/03/mula-ko-achar-nepali-fermented-radish-pickle.html

 

 

Sauf ko saag, dill leaves

Sauf ko saag, soup ko saag, dill leaves.

Binomial name Anethum Graveolens.

In Nepal, sauf ko saag are basically cooked as other greens. It goes very well with potatoes.

More about dil as reference-

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/seed-and-nut/dill.html

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ghiraula, sponge gourd

Ghiraula, sponge gourd.

Binomial name Luffa aegyptiaca.

Also called smooth luffa gourd.

A cylindrical-shaped common vegetable in Nepal.

Skin is peeled and mature seeds are removed prior to cooking. Goes well with potatoes.

A very mature and dried ghiraula can be used as sponge in bathrooms and kitchen. This is a very traditional practice in Nepal.

Mature ghiraula can also be recycled with plastic.

More about ghiraula –

https://agroproducts.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/the-benefits-of-sponge-gourd/

http://narc.gov.np/publicaton/pdf/book/Descriptors%20Sponge%20gourd.pdf