Rencontre de Pandey
After a 5 hour drive on the slippery slopes of the Himalayas, we stop in at the botanical garden of the Rapti zone.
We meet Pandey, a young botanist, who welcomes us with a lemongrass infusion. He shows us around the botanical garden where there is the long pepper plant (Piper longum), lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), Agave (Agavaceae family), black cardamom (Ammomum subulatum), turmeric (Curcuma longa) not to mention cinnamon.
We go to meet with a community of farmers located a few kilometers from the village of Jaban in the district of Salyan and Jajarkot.
We are accompanied by our botanist friend Pandey. He wants to introduce us to his friends, a young couple who is willing to prepare for us a chutney seasoned with Timur (Zanthoxylum armatum).
The community is located at 1800 m altitude, in the center of a natural amphitheater. When we get there we are amazed by the charm of the place. We are struck with the sensation of being thrust into “The Lost World”, the book by Arthur Conan Doyle.
There is no metal construction, only the clouds around the mountains, pristine pine forest, about twenty odd limestone houses on terraced fields. Pandey explains that here people are nearly self-sufficient.
Each family has a rice field, a beehive, many varieties of tomato plants, and a plot where they grow cabbage, ginger, turmeric and small hot peppers. Circling the houses there are some peach trees, kiwi vines, and coriander bushes. The young couple also has two cows to work the fields.
Upon our arrival, we notice the Timur trees situated close to all the houses. We explain to the young couple that the purpose of our trip was to explore Nepalese cuisine and especially the usage of Timur Berries.
So the young woman decided to prepare for us a tomato chutney seasoned with hot peppers and fresh Timur pepper. We try it out. Our taste buds easily recognize the citrus notes and the characteristic freshness of Timur. Then, shortly thereafter, the pepper’s heat quickly takes over and the ensuing spicy wave invades our mouths, leaving us feeling anesthetized.
This chutney usually complements a serving of rice, lentils, lentil flour chips, vegetable curry or potatoes. Nepalese cuisine is influenced by Indian and Tibetan food traditions.