Dalchini, cinnamon

Dalchini, cinamon

Dalchini, Cinnamon

Binomial name Cinnamomum cassia (L.) J.Presl

Dalchini or cinnamon 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 wasn’t commercially grown typically in Nepal though it could be seen growing wild in mid to high altitudes of Nepal. But recently, few organic farms have started growing dalchini in small-scale and are sold basically in major cities.

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 may be 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 a flavoring ingredient. 

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

As a home remedy, cinnamon may be helpful to cure an upset stomach, aid digestion, clear up urinary tract infection, fight against diseases causing fungi and virus, pain, cold and flu etc.

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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.

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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.

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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 –