Momo, the quintessential taste of the Himalayan Kingdom, is the dish you can’t miss when you are in Nepal. If you are served by a person who really knows how to cook momo then the taste will always stick to your tongue and you never know you may even want to join cooking class to learn the recipes.
To be precise, momo is the type of dumplings native to Nepal. They are made with white flour-and-water dough and sometimes a little yeast or baking soda and MSG (monosodium glutamate) are also added to give a more doughy texture to the finished product and to enhance the taste. The filling may be one of the several mixtures: meat (different type of meat fillings is popular in different regions especially the mean of buffalo, pork, chicken and goat), vegetables (finely chopped cabbage, potato or chayote), cheese (fresh cheese or traditional churpi), khuwa (milk solids), mashed potato or panner.
Talking about the history of momo, its origin is uncertain and clearly rustic. One prevalent belief is that the Newari traders while visiting Lhasa learned the techniques, modified the seasonings of the dish with available ingredients, using water buffalo meat, and gave it the Nepali name momo while some others believe that the dish was introduced to Nepali cuisine by Tibetans who migrated to live in Nepal. No matter what people say about the origins of the momo, it has become Nepal’s new national dish at the present.
Making momo is a pleasurable affair; all family members, friends and relatives gather together and spend a joyful leisurely time while preparing momo. Cooking momo is quite an easy task; first the dough is fashioned into small circular flat pieces, the filling is placed in the center, and then enclosed either in a round pocket or in a half moon shape or crescent, leaving some space for it to fill with broth that collects during steaming process. The dumplings are then cooked by steaming over a soup (either a stock based on bones or tomato-based), which is served with the dumplings, along with chili sauce. The dumplings may also be pan-fried or deep-fried after being steamed. There are different varieties of momos; fried momos, steamed momos, c-momos (steam momos served in hot sauce) and soup momos (steamed momos immersed in a meat broth) and at present they are given fancy names such as mitho momo, swaadista momo, raseelo momo, Himalayan momo etc. Generally, for most of the people the best momos are always juicy, so sometimes a little oil is added to the leanest types of ground meat to keep the filling moist and are served with spicy dipping sauce, tomato chutney or yellow chili-tomato-sesame seed sauce.
Momos are traditional delicacy in Nepal where they are endorsed as tasty cuisines that have evolved to suit the Nepali palate. They are one-meal dishes, the fast-food outlets, primary menu of luxury hotels and the best selling eatable dish of Nepal. Though momos are primarily a nibble, some even treat them as main course for lunch and dinner. Momos do not have any official endorsement but they are the most loved food in Nepal and no other dish can beat the taste of famous momo served with a variety of dipping sauces.
Anyone visiting Nepal for the very first time should make it a point to taste momo at least once.