Tomato Timur Achar
Tomato Timur Achar is a flavorful & spicy tomato sauce made with tomatoes, timur (Nepali Sichaun pepper), garlic, & chili peppers. It is naturally a vegan, gluten-free recipe.
Quickly popping in to share “Tomato Timur Achar”, a full-flavored tomato sauce that is best served with mo:mo and chatamari. I have had many variations of tomato timur achar - spicy, runny consistency, thick creamy kind, tangy, with lots of garlic and cilantro, no cilantro and they all have their own unique, delicious taste. Tomato Timur Achar I am sharing today is a simple yet flavorful recipe using pantry-friendly ingredients except for “timur” (Prickly ash, Nepal Pepper, Toothache tree, Sichuan Pepper). Timur aka Nepali Sichaun pepper gives this tomato achar a really unique taste and it’s absolutely essential in this recipe.
It took me a really long time to share a proper recipe for tomato sauce because nothing I have made compared to the delicious versions I ate at restaurants or made by friends and families. This past year, I experimented with different types of tomato achar for pop-ups and classes and I am somewhat happy with this version. Tomato timur achar can be made by broiling tomatoes, boiling tomatoes, or cooking them on a stove top and each version has it’s own charm. For the sake of simplicity, I am sharing a boiled tomato version today.
We begin the recipe by boiling equal amounts of Roma tomatoes + garlic cloves + dried chiles until flesh of tomatoes are soft to touch and the skin peels off easily. Few other ingredients and steps include : frying sesame seeds (optional but recommended), turmeric powder, chili powder, cumin seeds (optional) in hot oil and blending in tomatoes to a creamy consistency. Nepali sichaun pepper powder, salt, and lemon juice are added to taste at the end.
Some people do add toasted sesame seeds and spices directly into the blender with boiled tomatoes but I find frying spices such as turmeric, chili powder etc adds a nice depth of flavor. You can also adjust the amount of water to make the sauce thin or thick…and the added oil definitely lends to the creamy consistency.
Let’s talk quickly about Timur aka Nepali Sichuan pepper. It’s not a regular pantry ingredient unless you are Nepali or Tibetan and someone who cooks a lot of traditional dishes. We commonly hear the term Sichuan, Szechwan, or Szechuan cuisine which is a style of Chinese cuisine from Sichuan Province. The dishes liberally use chili peppers, garlic, and Sichuan pepper (huājiāo; 'flower pepper') which is slightly citrusy, fragrant, and gives that tingling sensation in the mouth.
Apparently, there are different varieties/species of Sichuan pepper and each have distinct flavor. I found that out only recently because my parents have been supplying me with Nepali Sichuan pepper and I hadn’t really explored it’s availability in the US. Now that I use Nepali Sichuan pepper more often for pop-ups and classes, I wanted to make sure the ingredients are locally available in the US but so far I have been unsuccessful. I purchased some at the Asian grocery store but they were bitter and didn’t have that tinging, vibrant taste of Nepali Sichuan pepper. If anyone knows the exact name or species for Nepali Sichuan pepper, please let me know and also, where to source it easily in the US.
TOMATO TIMUR ACHAR
6 roma tomatoes
6 garlic cloves
6 dried red chilies
1 tablespoon neutral oil such as canola, avocado
1/4 cup white sesame seed
1 teaspoon cumin seed (optional)
1 teaspoon red chili powder (optional)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon Nepali Sichuan pepper (adjust more or less than suggested per taste)
1 large lemon, squeezed
salt to taste
1. In a medium pot, boil tomatoes, garlic, and chilies for about 10 minutes until tomatoes are soft to touch. Set aside to cool. Fish out tomatoes, garlic, and chilies from the pot into the blender. & reserve the liquid.
2. Blend the ingredients with 1.5 cups of water.
3. In a frying pan, heat oil over medium heat. Fry sesame seeds, cumin seeds until light brown. Keep an close eye as sesame seeds burn easily.Add red chili powder, turmeric powder to the pan and mix everything together.
4. Pour the sesame and spice mixture directly into the blender. Add more reserved liquid or water if needed and blend everything into a smooth consistency.
5. Season with salt, Nepali Sichuan pepper, and lemon juice per taste.
6. Store in a close lid jar in the fridge and use within 5-7 days.