Winter 2022 News
Hello, welcome to our winter newsletter
- Culinary Adventures Club, what is it?
- Timur, trade routes are open again
- Seasonality, pick of the season and what’s in season
Culinary Adventures Club
With all the festivities over we’re working to grow the new baby on this site, The Culinary Adventures Club, we post regular new recipes some use our spices others don’t so you’re not tied into having to buy from us. It’s like a virtual cookery book but unlike a book the content keeps growing, each month we add more recipes and tips. Our recipes are fully searchable according to dietary requirements, course or spice blend. Members also get 10% discount in the shop and exclusive spice blends. Membership costs £2.50 a month and includes a 50p donation to YYY Foundation supporting remote schools in marginalised communities in Nepal.
So far this month we have posted recipes for Savoury tomato chutney, Manang black dal, Lamb shekuwa and Fragrant spiced rice. There are recipes for starters, seasonal vegetables, cakes and drinks inline for publishing over the coming weeks.
Uniquely Nepalese Timur is a delicious citrusy spice that has a hot numbing effect, it’s a wild spice that grows in the jungles of the middle hills in western Nepal. Timur is a tricky spice that has to be harvested by hand, it’s only the seed husks that are useful and each small husk needs to be examined before being plucked from the bush. Timur seeds are bitter and just a few seeds left in a husk are enough to ruin the crop. The harvesters are mostly women and children from local villages or nomadic hunter gatherers from tribes that return each year for the harvest, for many it’s their only income.
In 2020 the Nepal government closed the trade routes into the hills to protect the population from Covid so Timur has been in very short supply. In fact we are down to our last few tins of Mustang masala. The good news is that this years harvest has been good and people are starting to come down from the hills to sell foraged vegetables and their crop of timur.
Once we have bought this years Timur we need to check each husk a second time then clean and dry it before we can ship it to the UK so we expect our stock to arrive in April/May.
Sometimes people refer to Timur as Szechwan pepper, it’s not. Timur is closely related to Szechwan pepper the 2 look like identical twins but the aroma and flavour are distinctly different. Despite what is said the 2 are not interchangeable. We’ve tried all the different types of Szechwan pepper and none of them make an acceptable substitute, maybe we’re being pernickety but we don’t think so.
There’s no getting away from the fact that this is when seasonal foods are at their lowest. Lot’s of our late autumn vegetables are still around and winter veg is at it’s best. This seasons must haves are blood oranges, you can expect a flood of instagram posts from influencers as soon as they make an appearance. In the rush for picture perfect some of our less glamorous vegetables barely get a look in here’s 3 of our favourites.
They are a marmite vegetable aren’t they? Love or loath them you have to wander what sprouts did to be abused so much. For decades cooks have been boiling them to within an inch of oblivion, no wonder the result was pretty awful eating. Actually I think it’s the bitterness you can get with sprouts that puts people off. Try shredding them and quickly blanching them if you’re a bitterness hater, roasting is another delicious way to cook them.
Parsnips need to be eaten while the days are short and weather is cold, as soon as there’s more light and a hit on warmth they will spring into action. The roots will become woolly on the outside and fibrous inside, tough and tasteless. Tip, if you grow your own and they start to sprout, leave them to grow, the flowers are stunning. Roasts and soup aren’t the only way to eat parsnips they’re great curried.
Late in the season purple sprouting will appear, the season is so short and the shoots so sweet and delicate they deserve to be the star of the dish when you use them. Purple sprouting really doesn’t need a lot of interference, simply steamed with a light spiced butter and served with crusty dipping bread is a simple and tasty starter. The season is so short so enjoy them while you can.
The season for fruit and vegetables doesn’t just come to an end at New Year there’s still plenty of variety available.
Vegetables: Beetroot, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, celeriac, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, leeks, mushrooms, parsnips, turnips. Potatoes and autumn squash from store.
Fruit: Clementines, pomegranate, passion fruit, lemons, oranges. Apples and pears from store.
Fish: Haddock, mussels, oysters
February’s similar to January but beetroot leaves us and many of the fruit and vegetables are coming to an end.
Vegetables: Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, celeriac, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, leeks, mushrooms, parsnips, turnips. Potatoes from store.
Fruit: Pomegranate, passion fruit, Kiwi fruit, lemons, oranges. Apples and pears from store.
Fish: Haddock, mussels, oysters
There isn’t much around so this is the time to use frozen. It is the purple sprouting season so it's not all doom and gloom.
Vegetables: Cauliflower, celeriac, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, leeks, purple sprouting, spring onions. Potatoes from store maybe still ok but not at their best.
Fruit: Pomegranate, passion fruit, Kiwi fruit, lemons, oranges all are coming to an end.
Fish: Mussels and oysters
Wishing you the best of winter
Sarah & Helen