Momo: The Must Eat Foods in Nepal

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The World is Filled with Many Varieties of Foods

Nepali Momo is a type of steamed dumpling with a filling of vegetables or meat mixed with ground coriander, ginger, turmeric, cumin, and chili. Momo is one of the favorite dishes of Nepalese People. Each individual is unique on the basis of their taste. People like different food items at different times and occasions according to their culture, tradition and places they live in. As I belong to Nepal and observe its many cultures, I enjoy different food items. Among them is dumpling, which is called momo in Nepali.

Generally, momo is categorized into two types: veg and non-veg. There are varieties of vegetable dumplings like paneer, mixed vegetable and so on. Similarly, non-vegetable dumplings come in a long list of varieties, like chicken, buff, pork, mutton, fish and so on. Momos are served with pickles, which enrich the taste. Many varieties of pickles, like tomato pickle, chilly, peanut and other types are served with it. Basically, I enjoy momo a lot. In fact, I enjoy it so much that I don’t like to share it, not even with my brother! People think of it as junk food but I don’t think so. It is because we can make it healthy if we want. I am fond of it as I can choose from many varieties of it.     

When it is served hot, it tastes the best. As I adore the variety in general, I like the stunning smell of all the different types. The smell of spices, ginger, coriander, onion, chili, oil and garlic always waters my mouth. Whenever I pass the restaurants which serve momo, I remember the delicious and yummy taste. Different shapes, white skin, smooth surface and tempting appearance can attract any eye. The best part is that when we eat, pickles oozes out. When I sink my teeth into it, crush stuff inside, spices, onions and fat, I feel I am in heaven. I can eat three plates in a single sitting even though I know I will have a stomach ache afterwards!

Besides, the modern varieties like Fried, Khuwa, C, Sui mai and Momo with soup which are best served in different restaurants, are becoming popular day by day. No doubt, momo lovers, like me, are also growing with its growth.

History of Momo 

The term Momo is now known in all places of Nepal but yet no one knows, from where it got its name. Exactly nobody knows how and when the dish started in Nepal. But the Newar Community of Nepal is believed to have brought the method of cooking Momo from Tibet.

In Shanxi, unfilled buns are often called momo in Jin Chinese language, which is simply the character for “steamed bun”. The word momo spread to Nepal, Tibet, and India which now refers to filled dumplings. Momo word is believed to be a colloquial form of the Tibetan word “mog mog”.

The different names of Momo across Asia include Assamese: মম; Bengali: মোমো; Nepali: मम; Nepal Bhasa: ममचा, मम, Tibetan: མོག་མོག་, Wylie: mog mog; simplified Chinese: 馍馍; traditional Chinese: 饃饃; pinyin: mómo.

As Newari people used to travel to Tibet for trades which might be the reason behind the origin of Momo in Nepal. They might have changed the Tibetan ingredients with locally available ingredients such as local vegetables, spices, and meat of water buffalo, chicken and goats.

Others believe that the dish was prepared with Nepali cooking by Tibetans who relocated to live in the mountains of Nepal. Whatever might be its true story, Momo has now become an integral part of the Nepali foods.

Not only Nepal, Momo is a customary delicacy in Tibet, Bhutan, and India also. Momo is also quite popular in the Indian States nearer to the hilly regions of Nepal and Tibet like Sikkim, Darjeeling, Ladakh, Assam, Delhi, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Himachal Pradesh, Shillong, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and West Bengal.

Where Can You Eat Nepali Momo?

In Nepal, you can have Momo in every corner of the street where there is a hotel. It is also available in street fast food vendors as well as in five stars restaurants and hotels. You can eat Momo in almost every place in Nepal and many North Indian States, Bhutan, Bangladesh and as well as Tibet.

As Nepalese People are now living in many foreign countries. You can also find Nepalese restaurants in countries such as the US and Australia where you can taste the Nepali Momos easily.

How Momo is served?

In hotels and restaurants, Momos are served on a per plate basis. On each plate of Momo, 10 Momo dumplings are served with Momo Achar. The Momo Achar has tomato as the main ingredient as well as other spices, it is similar to Tomato ketchup but taste differently. However, other ingredients also can be used as the main ingredient of Momo Achar.

You can have cold drinks with hot Momos to enjoy your food more. Hotels and restaurants may serve Momo especially in Momo plate which has a separate space for Momo Achar. Momos will be served with a fork and you can choose a normal spoon or knife along with a fork to eat Momo.

How to Eat Nepali Momo?

To eat this tasty food, you need to dip a Momo dumpling into the Achar and have it fully in your mouth. You will feel the juices of fillings with each bite of it inside your mouth and the taste of Achar will enhance its flavour.

Just be careful if it is too hot to eat, you can use the fork to allow the Achar to enter inside the dumpling wrapper and eat it when it’s not too hot to burn your mouth.

Types of Nepali Momo

You can have various types of Momo in Nepal. The variety of the Momo is based on the Cooking method and its ingredients. Here are various types of Momo that you can eat in Nepal:

Based on Cooking Style:

Generally, the variety of Momo is Steamed and Fried. But there are many other modified varieties of Momo. Some of them are listed here:

  1. Steamed Momo

The Momos are prepared by steaming the dumplings. Steamed Momos can be found in every restaurant and hotel in Nepal. These steamed juicy momos are filled with minced vegetables or meat. And these are prepared by putting in a dumpling steamer.

  1. C-Momo or Chilli Momo (Spicy)

C momo is a spicy version of the regular momo dipped in a hot and spicy sauce. If you love hot and spicy food, then C Momo is the best option. You surely will enjoy eating this hot and spicy Momo if you can consume spicy things.

  1. Kothey Momo (Fried)

The half fried and half steamed momo which is made in an elongated shape is Kothey Momo. The filling inside the Kothey Momo can be either veg or meat such as mutton, chicken or buff.

  1. Open Momo

The open momo is different from regular momo. It has an unclosed wrapper at the top which makes it easier to pour distinctive momo Achar into the Momo.

  1. Fried and Steam fried Momo

The fried and steam-fried Momo are the crunchy versions of momos. These Momos are made by deep-frying the momo or frying it after steaming the momo. It is a little bit oily Momo but obviously, its taste will completely make you forget about your health-conscious thoughts.

  1. Green Momo

The Green Momo is made of spinach blended with flour and is also kneaded with the water from the spinach. Therefore, the colour of the Momo is also green as its name.

  1. Buckwheat (Phaphar) Momo

Buckwheat Momo is a momo made of Buckwheat (Phaphar). This Momo is best for those people who are conscious about their health. It is a safe pick as the buckwheat momo contains more protein and nutrients than the other regular momos.

They have a light texture and are very tasty but it should be eaten when it’s warm as they tend to be a bit dry when they get cooled down.

  1. Jhol Momo

The Momos which are drowned in a bowl full of sauce or jhol, achar or Achar is known as Jhol Momo. Jhol means liquid or soup and the Momos are fully drowned in the jhol of the bowl. The sauce or jhol, achar or Chatni is texturally thin and has a hot, spicy and tangy twist.

  1. Tandoori Momo

This is a combination of momo and tandoori. The tandoori Momo is rich in texture, and your taste bud will feel the pleasure of eating a tandoori Momo. It has fillings of meat such as Chicken, Mutton or Buff.

Based on Ingredients:

  • Veg Momo

Veg Momo has vegetables like Cabbage, spinach, etc as fillings inside the dumpling.

  • Paneer Momo

Paneer Momo has Paneer as the fillings inside the dumpling. It is also a Veg Momo but it is costlier than regular Veg Momo. The dough of the momo is stuffed with Paneer and is served with achar.

  • Cheese Momo

It is common to have dairy products as fillings inside the Momos. It is similar to Paneer Momo and has cheese instead of Paneer.

  • Khuwa momo

A sweet and light-tasting milk product dessert Momo is the Khuwa Momo. The filling texture of the Khuwa Momo is reminiscent of a softened burfi. It is popular in Kathmandu Valley.

  • Mutton Momo

It is a Momo which has goat meat as fillings inside the dumpling.

  • Chicken Momo

The Non-veg Momo having fillings of Chicken Meat is Chicken Momo.

  • Buff Momo

In buff Momo, the meat is Buffalo. It is the most popular Momo in Nepal and is cheapest among all other Non-veg Momo.

  • Fish Momo

Stuffed with fish meat, the fish Momo has an unusual flavor and is lighter than that of the regular momo. The fish Momo is a must-try for everyone.

  • Chocolate Momos

The Chocolate Momo is with gooey chocolate lava filling and tucked between the layers. These dumplings are further topped with chocolate sauce and chocolate shavings. Surely, a must-try Momo for Chocolate and Momo lovers.

How to Cook MoMo?

Momo can be easily prepared at home. It doesn’t require any special ingredients, all the ingredients available at your kitchen will be enough for cooking Momo. One important thing that is required to prepare Momo is Dumpling Steamer.

Dumpling Steamer generally spelt as Momo Pakaaune Bhaadaa in Nepali (म: म: पकाउने भाडा) is mainly used for steaming stuffed dumplings.

The Dumpling Steamer is generally of two or three racks and made of aluminium or stainless steel. More the number of racks, the number of dumplings can be prepared.

Each rack has holes that allow steam to pass through. The bottom base rack holds the steaming water and the top rack has a domed lid, which prevents water from dripping onto the steamed food. Fill the base of the steamer with 3 to 4 inches of water and allow it to boil. You need to place the dumplings in the racks of the steamer to cook Momo with the steam.

Preparing or Cooking Momos becomes much easier and fun when you have a helping hand to help you with cooking in the kitchen. With more hands, faster you can prepare several dumplings.

Recipe of Nepali MoMo:

The normal cooking time of Momo is 15 minutes but it may require 1 hour for preparation of the fillings and the dough.

Ingredients are mostly similar for all types of Momos. You can choose between Veg or Non-Veg Momo. For Veg Momo fillings can be of finely chopped Cabbage, Carrot, Spinach, green leafy vegetables or dairy products. Whereas for Non-veg Momo filling can be of any minced meat product that you want to eat such as mutton, chicken, buff or pork, etc.

The following recipe will prepare Momo dumplings for 4-6 people which can be around 50 to 60 dumplings. Generally, one plate of Momo served at restaurants have 10 Momo dumplings.

Here is the recipe of Momo which will help know the procedure of the preparation of Dough, the amount of fillings and other ingredients required to prepare Momos:

Dough for wrappers:

  1. 5 cups all-purpose flour

  2. 1 tablespoon oil

  3. Water as required

  4. Pinch of salt

Ingredients and Fillings for Momo:

  1. 2 lbs of Fillings (Approximately 1 kg) (Meat, Veggies or Dairy Products)

  2. 1 full white onion chopped

  3. 1 tablespoon ground garlic minced

  4. 1 tablespoon fresh ginger minced

  5. 1 group scallions

  6. Salt as indicated by the taste

  7. 1 tablespoon of cumin powder

  8. ¼ tablespoon turmeric

  9. 1 tablespoon curry powder, meat masala or MOMO masala

  10. Half tablespoon white pepper

  11. 3 tablespoon cooking oil

  12. 2 group finely cleaved cilantro

  13. Green Chili for the Sauce

  14. 1 tablespoon Sesame seed for the sauce

  15. 2 lbs of ready tomatoes

Instructions for Cooking Momo:

  1. Mix all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

  2. Seasoning of the mixture with salt and pepper.

  3. Cover the mixture for at least an hour in the refrigerator to allow all ingredients to impart their unique flavors which also improves the consistency of the filling.

  4. Mix the flour, oil, salt, and water in a large bowl to prepare the dough.

  5. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes till it becomes homogeneous in texture.

  6. Cover the dough for 15 minutes and Knead well again before making wrappers.

  7. Prepare 1-inch diameter dough balls and prepare more than a dozen at a time so it can prevent drying.

  8. Roll the dough between your palms to prepare spherical shape dough balls.

  9. Roll out the dough ball into a 3-inch diameter circular wrapper on the board.

  10. Similarly, prepare more wrappers and cover with a bowl to prevent drying.

  11. Take a wrapper on one palm and put one tablespoon of filling mixture. Cover the fillings inside the wrapper by making a dumpling which brings all the edges together with the other hand to the center, while making pleats.

  12. Pinch and twist the pleats for absolute closure of the stuffed dumpling.

  13. Prepare the steamer by heating the water and oil the steamer rack well, as the oil will prevent dumplings from sticking.

  14. Place Momo dumplings with some space from each other in the steamer.

  15. Close the lid of the steamer and allow about 10-15 minutes for steaming until the dumplings are cooked through.

  16. Take the dumplings from the steamer after they are cooked and serve immediately.

  17. Serve the cooked Momos on a plate dressed with Momo achar.

So with this recipe, you can prepare Nepali style dumplings, i.e. Momo at home yourself also. The Achar for Momo can be prepared by using tomatoes, spices, and salt according to your taste. And you can have a good time with family and friends by inviting them to eat Nepali Momo at your house.

The Best MoMo Places in Kathmandu

There is something oddly pleasing about eating a hot plate of momo in a cold winter day. It is not that it is not pleasing on other days, but during the winters, momo just makes sense. But, momo from which outlet is also a question that pops up in everyone’s mind as almost all restaurants have momo on their menu. Apart from that, there are hundreds of momo joints in the valley and choosing one can be quite exhausting.

Here, we list 11 momo places in Kathmandu that are so good that you want to go back again and again:

1. Narayan Daiko Masangalliko Famous Momo

You can figure out from the name that this place is famous. To many, it is more than a momo joint, it is an institution which has stood for over five decades. Started in Masangalli near Jhochhen, the joint has outlets in Basantapur, Putalisadak, and Ratopool also. Their buff momo is juicy and flavoursome while their veg momo with paneer is quite good too. Their sauce at times can be a bit inconsistent, but when it is right, the place’s momo is plate-licking good.

2. Shandar Momo

Another age-old momo joint which is just as good if not better is Shandar Momo. Unlike Narayan Dai’s, there is no seating arrangement here. Located near Suraj Arcade, you take a taper, head out and eat whatever you like. Its momo is fulfilling to an extent that you will want another helping. There are a lot of Shandar Momos in the valley so make sure you go to the one near Suraj Arcade. A pro tip: make sure you fill the tapari with its both sauces.

3. Ghangri Café (For open momo)

Open momos are not for everyone, but we feel everyone should try it at least once. The Ghangri Café in Jamsikhel of Lalitpur is probably the best place to try it too. The momos are open at the place, so your fillings are visible. Served with three chutneys (sweet, spicy and sour), the dish is both interesting and delicious. Add all three sauces into the momo and let the different flavours burst in your mouth.

4. Momo Magic

Located at Maharajgunj near Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, Momo Magic is one of the valley’s underrated momo joints. Its thin dough along with delicious filling and the spicy chutney makes the place worth a visit. It has all three variants (chicken, buff, veg), but make sure you get there by 2 pm if you are a vegetarian as it tends to run out of them quite early.   

5. Bagmati Sweets

While there are a lot of momo joints that serve good non-veg momo, there are very few that only serve veg momo. Bagmati Sweets in Tripureshwor is one which serves enticing paneer momos along with a really tasty tomato pickle. The momo is quite fresh too as its normally served around lunchtime so like Momo Magic, make sure you are there by 2 if you want to eat some good paneer momos.

6. New Everest Momo Centre

Located in Sorakhutte near Amrit Science College, New Everest is a simple momo joint which serves some lip-smacking momos. It serves only one type of momos, the buff momo, but it sells over 300 plates a day so it has got to be good, right? Served with a creamy and flavorful sauce, it is a place that you have to go to.

7. Jazz Upstairs

Jazz has the most underrated momos in town. Its chicken, cheese and buff momos are good. But, what stands out here is its pork momo. It is meaty, juicy, and scrumptious. Like Momo Magic’s momo, Jazz too has a thin dough and the sauce it comes with is just great. It comes in kothey and soup variants so you have options.

8. Boso Rahit Momo

Boso Rahit might not be fat-free, but it is definitely delicious. Located in Pulchok, the joint is one of the most popular momo places in Kathmandu. Unlike some popular joints, it has veg and chicken options, but nothing will beat its buff momo which is its staple. We are sure you will have at least a couple of plates before leaving.

9. Bagalamukhi Momo

You might think this is a vegetarian place. But, rest assured it is not. The buff momos are quite generous in size here and its sauce is quite consistent. There is another chutney which is quite interesting too. The restaurant located at Patan Dhoka also has chicken momos which are similar to buff momos. The place is quite packed during lunchtime, so it is advised to visit before 1 and after 3.

10. New Swadilo Momo

This is probably the best out of the lot. Located less than 100 metres from QFX Kumari, we have not seen the place empty. There are times when it literally runs out of momos at 4 PM, so one can imagine how busy it gets. The soup is great; the momo is meaty and juicy. Appearance-wise, it is quite hygienic too. If you have not been here, what are you waiting for?

11. Everest Momo

Located in Naxal, this was probably the most visited momo joint over a decade ago. People would queue up to eat here. Even though the place does not serve momos with the same taste as it did back then, the momo is still quite good. However, compared to others, the price of momo here is quite high. Is it worth the price? You will have to try and figure it out for yourself.

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