Curiously, Bombay Market in Union Square hasn’t been owned by Indians any time recently. Last summer, Hari Prasad Lamichhane (at left), who hails from Katmandu, Nepal, bought New Bombay from its previous owners, natives of Bangladesh. Hari has kept the store’s name and continues to carry many items you’d find at most Indian stores—papadam, many types of dal and an extensive spice collection. Yet he also stocks exotic, hard-to-find ingredients imported from Nepal. One such item is timur, a spice that looks a bit like a clove but is citrusy and mildly peppery. Although they look like seeds, timur are dried berries from a prickly variety of ash (Zanthoxylum alatum) that grows in the Himalayas.
When Hari kindly gave us a packet of timur, we were beguiled by its aroma and eager to test it out. So we asked our friend Bimala Thapa, a Katmandu native now living in Union Square, to teach us how to use this curious spice.
Bimala taught us how to whip up three nepali dishes, including a tomato timur achar (like an Indian pickle or chutney). The timur pickle was like nothing we’ve ever tasted before: sweet, piquant, with notes of lemons and oranges. We were hooked. Within a few weeks, we’ll post the cooking videos we made with Bimala on Nibble. In the mean time, here is the timur pickle recipe. When shopping for timur at Bombay Market, you may also want to try sweet lapsi (dry hog plum), which is used in achars and sweet spicy candy.
If you’re interested in checking out some of the area’s Nepalese restaurants, Arts Council office manager Heather Balchunas recommends the lentil soup ($2.95) and chicken mo-mos ($6.95) at Yak and Yeti in Ball Square. Also, check out this chowhound discussion to learn more about where you can sample yak meat, dal bhaat and other nepali specialties in the area.