When I sat down to write, I felt I could write a whole book on the joys of making and eating momos, Nepalese bite size steamed dumplings. Filled with meat or vegetables with thin white flour outer wrapping, one could call these a Nepalese version of Xiaolongbao.
Growing up in Kathmandu (the capital of Nepal) in a Newari (the natives of Kathmandu) household momos or mahmahcha (in Newari) are a savoury treat made during the monsoon festival. Momos are also steamed and served with a tangy tomato relish or aachar which is a blend of chargrilled tomatoes, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, chillies and seasoning. There are many variations to this combo and one of them in jhol momo where momos are served on top of thin flavourful tomato soup.
For the filling meat such as pork is marinated with onion, garlic, ginger and dash of cumin. Any mix of these spices or other herbs like fenugreek, cinnamon, coriander, asafetida, garam masala and mustard oil can be added to tailor the flavour to preferences.
But recently vegetable and tofu or cheese momos are getting popular as many of us are moving towards a plant based or a vegetarian diet. My personal favourite ones that I enjoy both teaching and eating are the ones with chestnut mushrooms with hint of truffle oil. But the best momos are definitely the leftover ones that fried then the next day!
Momos can also be incorporated into other dishes. My mum used to drop the momos into a tasty stew of coloured lentils, so they would slightly bob on the thick brown stew. This hearty ‘one pot’ dish quanti, is flavoured with caraway seeds and ginger, which aids the digestion of the lentils, and was one of favourite dishes to prepare on those cold winter evenings in London.
I feel that one cannot go wrong with momos. Historically, these dumplings were an outcome of culinary habits picked up by Newari merchants who often travelled to neighbouring Tibet for commerce and trade.
Today they have become the most recognizable Nepalese dish and loved by all Nepalese and its diasporic communities all over the world. This fusion dish combines its Sino-Tibetian origin with a South Asian accent making it quintessentially a Nepalese dish.
So there you go. If you want to learn how to make momos, join me in my Classic Nepalese Cuisine: Momo (Dumplings) class and learn to make an array of fabulous dumplings!