A textbook definition of momo, for those who don’t know, is a steamed dish with spiced minced meat wrapped inside a pocket made of a thin sheet of flour dough.
Momo, in its basic construction, is similar to the following dishes. Most of these dishes originate in Central Asia.
The difference is that the meat filling inside the momo is spiced with curry or related spices from the Indian subcontinent such as cumin, turmeric, coriander seeds etc.
Technically, momo is a potsticker with curried meat. For me, momo is a lot of fond memories; my mother making momos for 17 consecutive nights on our request, savoring cheap “especial” Mo: Mo in a local pasal against my parents wish, hitchhiking 100 miles to Philadelphia to buy my first steamer, Friday night weekly momo dinner at my cousin’s house in Virginia, loud momo parties at friends, last minute mad dash to accommodate a vegetarian momo eater or just a quite weekends with a special someone and lot of momos.
Although I have lot of special memories associated with momo, I hate making them. At first, I believed that I despised the repeated task of pinching dough and filling meat. I still hated it even when I got creative with each pinching of the dough and shape of individual momo.
I finally realized that more than disliking the monotony of making momo, I love the idea that someone made that “momo” just for me. To me, momo carries the warm feeling of someone taking care of me – maybe my ma, bhauju, fufu, bahini, sathi or just a complete stranger. Each packet of dough filled with the curried meat is just made for me, someone took care of my needs and pampered me with my favorite dish.
For you many other Nepali people, momo would probably symbolize something else, it may mean comradery of working together in a group, taking care of people by feeding, sharing a plate with someone you just met, learning to cook as a child, finding innovative ways to steam momo in a college dorm, casual weekend gluttony, a bout of rebellion by eating meat against the religion, not giving into the peer pressure by staying vegetarian, or getting warmth in a winter night with the family. Whatever the reason maybe, lets celebrate talking, making, steaming, sharing, and eating momo this first week of February.
Posted in: Food Culture | Tags: American Momo, dumplings, Eating Momo, Kathmandu Momo, Mo-mo, Momo, momo masala, Momo Nepal, Momocha, Nepal momo, Nepalese Momo, Nepali Food, Nepali Momo, Newri food, Tibetan food, Why I like Momo
Momo is my favorite food. For those who don’t know about momo, it’s a very similar to Chinese potstickers/dumplings or Japanese gyōza. To be honest, I was quite conflicted either to call my dish, momo or gyōza or dumplings, before writing this post. Other words are probably understood more widely but momo was what I was set to make, and how I know it from my heart. So be it, it’s “momo”. Oh well it’s not that I am calling a burger as “masu ko dalla”.
Often, I get asked by my vegetarian Nepali friends (Sau’bh, A’ya, A’u, S’e, Dha’na) how to make a good vegetarian momo. The easiest answer is to use any meatless sausage from your local grocery or homemade seitan instead of meat. However this time, I wanted to make a healthy and less processed vegetarian filling from scratch.
Many converted vegetarians don’t like momo much because they use watery vegetables that results in soggy overcooked momo. It’s complete blasphemy to art of momo making with complete disregard to the fact that momos are the texture food with meaty texture. You need to get the right texture not just flavor for your momos.
This is my journey on how to make a partially successful veggie momos. Partial success, because I’m still not satisfied with the final vegetarian momo. It’s definitely not as good as my favorite classic meat (masu) momo.
I used defrosted frozen spinach because it is has somewhat neutral flavor, is convenient, and has healthy overtones.
This is the most important step of making vegetarian momo — giving it texture. I added texture by adding lentil flour (urad dal) and use egg to bind the concoction. You can use other lentil flour such as chickpea flour or besan, now conveniently available in your local Wholefoods. I added imported momo masala for spicing my momos. If you don’t have momo masala, add any garam masala or make one. Please remember that all garam masala (or curry powders) are not created equal. Invest in a good one since it will last for many meals to come.
Here I’m improving my momo recipe by adding flavorful cilantros.
For more flavors, chopped onions, tomatoes and ghee were added. Everything could be added earlier but this shows how I was improvising (or was nervous about) my momo.
I used Nasoya wonton wrappers from a generic grocery store to wrap my momos. My momo looked awful, but I was really tired and hungry. I just wanted to get done (also I can’t wrap momos well). For comparison, see some of the finest momo in this momo facebook album.
Steam it for about 10 minutes around when momo wrappers are cooked showing its shiny exterior.
Serve with classic momo sauce made with roasted tomatoes and fresh cilantro. As you can see from image of one open momo that the texture of even spinach momo was meaty like momo – not watery. Even though , the texture was fine, the momo was lacking something else.
I made a quite a few of these momo – so luckily I had the leftovers for dinner the next day. One of the classic ways to serve leftover momo is to deep fry or pan fry them. I decided on going a healthy route and baking my momos. Lightly coat with oil – maybe those Pam oil spray will come handy here. Bake 20 minutes in 375 °F oven. This still remains an attempt because I was not completely satisfied with it. Trust me the photo looks tastier.
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Posted in: Cooking | Tags: baked momo, dumplings, Green momo, Momo, momo facebook album, momo fillings, momo masala, momo wonton wrappers, Newari Food, Spinach Momo, Vegetarian, vegetarian momo, vegetarian nepali