“What is your favorite food?” When someone asks me this, I answer, “I am a Nepali and live in Kathmandu.” And if the inquirer knows Nepal enough, they will automatically interpret the result.
Seems farfetched, huh? Not really.
This is how most people explain Momo. After all, Nepalis sometimes have a weird way of responding. Ask us the distance between two cities- most of us will answer in time and not kilometers. ‘Kathmandu and Pokhara are about six hours apart from each other in a Microbus and 8 to 10 hours in a minibus.’
Well, momo is the favorite go-to snack for most of the people living in the country. The Nepali version of a dumpling, this variety historically brought from Tibet, has established itself as a staple food in the community.
How Do We Make Momos?
Well, the preparation of the Momo itself is not different from any other type of dumpling. You fill small doughs with ingredients and then steam it.
We use the All-Purpose Flour to make momo.
The fillings can be minced meat, vegetables, or paneer (cottage cheese). These days, however, Nepalis are getting more inventive with their ingredients. Varieties such as chocolate momo, banana momo, peanut momos are available in the market.
For the perfect momo, the dough should be neither thin nor thick. It should be chewy.
Moreover, how you prepare the filling matters. The amount of spices and oil (sometimes butter) in the mix dictates the final taste.
Additionally, steaming should be done for the right time. Over steaming will make it very moist and cause the momo to break. On the other hand, not cooking enough will make it hard and not taste right.
Don’t Forget the Achar
You see, momo would never be called Nepali food if it was not very different from other kinds of dumplings. One thing that sets it apart from dumplings in other countries is the dip.
Most of the dumplings are eaten with soy sauce. But in the case of Momo, we dip it in something called ‘Achar.’ It is a paste of tomato, spices, and other ingredients, which could be pumpkin flesh, lapsi, etc.
Every momo maker has a different recipe for the achar. In most cases, there is more than one achar. Especially most vendors also prepare the hot sauce, made of chilly and spices.
You need to have a good tasting achar.
However, there is not Only One Kind of Momo
That was about the original steam momo. However, these days, people have modified the ways they prepare the food to create other varieties:
Fried Momo: Deep-fried steam momo.
Jhol Momo: Momo served by drowning in a lot of achar.
Kothey Momo: Steam momo that is not deep-fried, but some part fried until its little brown.
C Momo: Fried Momo, hot tomato sauce, capsicum, onion, and spices all mixed together.
These are the most popular ones. However, other versions such as Chaat Momo, Pizza Momo are also available.
Momo in the Nepali Society: History and Significance
The origin of momo dates back to the 14th century. The indigenous group of the Kathmandu valley, the Newars first brought the food to Nepal when they used to go to Tibet to trade.
As of now, there are vendors in every corner of the street, especially in the capital city of Katmandu. They are easy to make and delicious, and that is why they are so common in the country.
You see, the preparation is not that hard and doesn’t take a lot of money, so the
food well fits the budget of an everyday Nepali. The price usually starts at Rs 90 per plate, which could go higher than Rs. 500 fin some high-end places.
The usual assessment is ten pieces per plate. The favorite filling for most is buffalo meat, which is followed by chicken, paneer, goat meat, and vegetables.
There haven’t been any surveys, but if we conducted one, the results would be about millions of momos being eaten in Nepal every day.
Momo is food that everyone must taste at least once in their lives. Its enticing taste, unforgettable aroma, and the savory texture will put everyone’s mind in a blank when they take the first bite.
Article by Anubhav Gautam