My unmatched and indulgent Citizens! Tremble before Part III of VI in the ongoing “rare dumpling” recipe-fest that the Hetman of the Himalayas – YOUR TFD! – has planned for your ongoing gustatory revelations and enjoyment! We travel today to the veritable roof of the world – the proud country of Nepal! – to showcase their unique take on chicken dumplings! Known as jhol momo, they bask in a sauce that demonstrates irrefutable proof that a kind and loving Deity watches over the tastebuds of both TFD Nation and the people of Nepal alike!
Nepali cuisine comprises a variety of cuisines based upon ethnicity, soil and climate relating to Nepal’s cultural diversity and geography. It basically represents a fusion of Indian, Himalayan and even Chinese ingredients into a unique new whole that I find completely addictive – it’s truly one of My fave cuisines in the world! Condiments are usually small amounts of spicy pickle (achaar, अचार) which can be fresh or fermented, mainly of dried mustard greens (called gundruk ko achar) and radish (mula ko achar) and of which there are many varieties.
Other accompaniments may be sliced lemon (nibuwa) or lime (kagati) with fresh green chilli (hariyo khursani) and a fried papad and also Islamic food items such as rice pudding, sewai, biryani etc. Dhindo (ढिंडो) is a traditional food of Nepal. A typical example of Nepali cuisine is the Chaurasi Byanjan (Nepali: चौरासी व्यञ्जन) set. This is where bhat (rice) is presented on a giant leaf platter (patravali) along with *84* different Nepali dishes, each served on small plates. It is mostly served during weddings and Pasni (a rice feeding ceremony).
Special foods such as sel roti, finni roti and patre are eaten during festivals such as Tihar. Sel roti is a traditional Nepali homemade ring-shaped rice bread which is sweet to the taste. Other foods have hybrid Tibetan and Indian influence, while chow mein based on Chinese-style stir-fried noodles is a Nepali favorite and is now one of the most beloved everyday staple lunches in Nepali households.
Although most homes and restaurants in cities have dining tables, meals in villages are often eaten seated on a tiny wooden seat (pira) or on chairs or benches. A large mound of bhat, dhindo or a pile of rotis is served on a jharke thal (a large brass plate) or a khande thal (a compartment plate). On the jharke thal, the rice is surrounded by smaller mounds of prepared vegetables, fresh chutney or preserved pickles, and sometimes curd/yogurt, fish or meat.
Separate glasses and bowls are instead used for different dishes, while serving on smaller plates or when serving to honoured guest or elders of the family. The most notable of this is the separate thals and bowls that are given to elders and honoured guests that are made of a separate metal alloy (jharke). Although it is vague on the specifics to what jharke can be quantified as (due to the change in the actual metallic composition of jharke for the past few generations and there being no one standard).
Thus, jharke thals, bowls etc. can all vary in appearance from locality, era, craftsmanship, and more, however the sentiment still remains. On a khande thal, there are separate small compartments for chutney and tarkari and other dishes. Food is traditionally eaten with the right hand. Touching or eating food with the left hand, which is traditionally used for washing off after stool, is considered unhygienic and taboo. The hands should be washed before eating, and the hand and mouth should be rinsed after.
It is customary to wash one’s lips after eating. The use of spoons, and more recently forks, is also increasing, and inquiring if one is available is acceptable. The washing of hands and mouth is not necessary, before or after, when eating with a spoon.
In Nepal, especially among the Brahmin and chetry castes, the purity of food and drinks is taken very seriously. Contact with saliva is almost universally considered to make food impure, which is considered to be jutho and may be seen as a sign of insult or grave ignorance. Acceptability of jutho food follows the traditional hierarchy of respect, where parents’ jutho is acceptable to children but not vice-versa and so on.
People of equal standing, like friends and spouses may also share jutho, except among highly religious (where jutho is impure) or traditional people (where jutho is thought to transfer diseases, or husbands may be held superior to wives). In a similar vein, food touched by pets and other animals, or where an insect drops, are discarded and the containers thoroughly washed. Some exceptions may be made for animals traditionally thought pure, such as cows.
Now as for the glory that are momos…a momo is a type of steamed dumpling with some form of filling, most commonly chicken (traditionally yak, but often chicken and goat) and it is originally from Tibet. Momo has become a delicacy in Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and the Indian communities of Darjeeling, Sikkim and Kalimpong. Traditionally, momo is prepared with ground/minced meat, potatoes, and leek filling.
Nowadays, the fillings have become more elaborate and momo is prepared with virtually any combination of ground meat, vegetables, tofu, mushrooms, paneer cheese, soft chhurpi (local hard cheese) and vegetable and meat combinations.
Different types of meat fillings are popular in different regions. In Nepal, Tibet, Ladakh, Sikkim, and Bhutan common meat fillings are pork, chicken, goat and water buffalo. In the Himalayan region of Nepal and India, lamb and yak meat are more common. Minced meat is combined with any or all of the following: onions/shallots, garlic, ginger and cilantro/coriander. Some people also add finely puréed tomatoes and soy sauce.
Momo is the colloquial form of the Tibetan word “mog mog”. It is possible that this Tibetan word is borrowed from the Chinese term momo (馍馍), a name traditionally used in northwestern Chinese dialects for wheat steamed buns and bread. The word mo (馍) itself means wheat flour food products or mantou (馒头), steamed buns. Historically, Chinese names for steamed buns did not distinguish between those with or without fillings until the term baozi (包子) emerged during the Song Dynasty between the tenth and thirteenth century.
However, in eastern regions of China such as Jiangsu and Shanghai, mantou continues to carry both meanings in modern day. In the Nepal Bhasa language, the word mome (मम) means cooking by steaming. The history of momo in Nepal dates back to as early as the fourteenth century. As for the Himalayan momo, it is not quite known whether it spread from the Kathmandu valley of Nepal to Tibet or the other way around.
This dish was initially popular among the Newar community of the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, one prevalent belief is that traveling Nepali Newar merchants took the recipe of momo from Tibet where the Nepali Newar Merchants used to go to trade and brought it back home to Nepal.
Some argue that momo was introduced in Tibet by a Nepalese Newari princess who was married to a Tibetan king in the late fifteenth century, since in Newari, one of Nepal’s oldest languages, ‘mome’ means cooking by steaming. In Tibet, the filling of the dish was typically meat, such as yak and occasionally potatoes and cheese. Traditional Tibetan momo is quite different from the Nepalese one as the former was made with a thicker dough and with little to no spices except salt.
However, after arriving in the Indo-Gangetic Plains, the meat became chicken, and mixed vegetables momo was introduced to feed the large population of vegetarian Hindus. Unproven, but substantiated by the dates and references to momo in colloquial references, the civil war in Nepal pushed out the Nepali diaspora to seek a livelihood in India, which further increased the prevalence of Himalayan style momo in the southern half of India especially in the cities of Chennai and Bangalore.
The dough is rolled into small circular flat pieces. The filling is enclosed in the circular dough cover either in a round pocket or a half-moon or crescent shape. People prefer meat with a lot of fat because it produces flavorful, juicy momos. It is for this reason that My momos includes pork as well as chicken to achieve supreme savor and juiciness!
A little oil is sometimes added to the lean ground/minced meat to keep the filling moist and juicy. The dumplings are then cooked by steaming over a soup (either a stock based on bones or vegetables) in a momo-making utensil called mucktoo. Momos may also be pan-fried or deep-fried after being steamed. Momos are traditionally steamed but can also be deep-fried or pan-fried and cooked in soup. It is usually served with chili garlic sauce and pickled daikon in Tibet.
In Nepal, popular dipping sauces include tomato-based chutneys or sesame or peanut or soybean-based sauces called achar. Sauces can be thick or thin in consistency depending on the eatery. In the Kathmandu valley, the traditional way of plating momo (called momochā or local momo) are ten ping-pong ball-sized round momo drowned in a sauce called jhol achar. This sauce is infused with Timur pepper (Nepali pepper, a variety of Sichuan pepper) and a mixture of tomatoes, sesame seeds, chilies, cumin and coriander.
Specfically, jhol momo has warm or hot tomato-based broth poured over momo made from achar known as jhol achar (not cooked in the broth). One of the main ingredients of jhol achar is Nepali hog plum (lapsi), but if this is unavailable, tamarind, lemon or lime juice may be used. Thankfully, TFD has done His usual sleuthing and found a source for genuine Nepali hog plum powder here!
Remarkably for one of My recipes, that is pretty much the ONLY unusual ingredient you’re going to need – never let it be said that TFD can’t do recipes without easily-accessible ingredients that don’t involve mortgaging your firstborn or buying out an entire spice shop! Now, with that said…pleating these dumplings IS a bit time-consuming, but I promise it isn’t that hard – this video deftly explains the 5 ways to properly pleat/shape a Nepali momo. I personally prefer the first version demonstrated (round, pleated).
My superlative Citizens – this is truly one of My favorite snacks (the San Francisco Bay Area is blessed with several excellent Nepali restaurants!) and for those who seek to expand the vistas of their culinary horizon, this is one hell of a great place to start your journey!
Battle on – the GeneralissimoPrint
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?