Real Life in Fusion Food: Nepalese Momos

May 31, 2009

Momos are the dumplings of the Tibetan/Himalayan/North Indian region. Their range in flavor speaks to the variabilities in geography, topographt, and climate.

Up in Tibet, these dumplings are similar to Chinese dumplings, using pork, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger as mainstay components. Yak and lamb are also used in those mountainous regions.

As you move south to Nepal, lamb starts to play an even larger role and more and more spices are incorporated into the filling.

Getting into India there are even more spices in the picture, particularly garam masala. Finally paneer cheese fills sweet momos.

I am determined to explore all the momos, but for now I will focus on the Nepalese momos because of their unique flavor brought about by geographic influences. These momos are eaten in the Himalayan regions where lamb and yak are prominent. They incorporate the flavors of the countries that lock them: China and India.

Because of the gaminess of lamb, strong spices and aromatics are used to flavor and tenderize the meat. Sichuan peppercorns com from China's province, ginger and green onions linger from the general region, and tumeric, coriander, cumin, creep up from the south. Ghee is used to add more fat to leaner cuts of lamb.

Additionally, the "achar", which is the dipping sauce/fresh chutney, pics up tomatoes and even more spices for flavor (think chicken tikka masala).

As these are dumplings, they take a while to assemble and many suggest a momo party. Divide and conquer momo-fuckers!

Nepalese Lamb Momos (makes about 100) Total time 4 hours, Active time 4 hours

- 3 cups flour
- 1 T sesame oil
- 1/2 c boiling water
- 1/2 c room temperature water
- 1 lb lamb (or 1/2 lb lamb +1/2 lb pork if you prefer a milder flavor)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 T garlic, chopped
- 2 t grated ginger
- 3 green onion stalks, chopped
- 1 serrano chile
- 1 t coriander seeds
- 1 t cumin seeds
- 1/2 t white peppercorns
- 1/2 t black peppercorns
- 1/2 t sichuan peppercorns
- 1/2 t ground tumeric
- 1 t chili powder
- grated nutmeg, about 1/2 t
- 1 t salt
- 2 T ghee (clarified butter)
Momo Achar
- 2 tomatoes
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 serrano chili
- 2 T sesame seeds
- 1 t cumin seeds
- 1 T mustard seeds
- 1 t sichuan peppercorns
- 1/4 t ground asafetida
- 1 T chopped ginger
- 2 T lime juice
- 1 T lime zest
- 1/2 t fenugreek leaves
- salt

1. For the peel, place flour in a bowl. Pour in sesame oil and boil water and stir rapidly with chopsticks. Once incorporated, add in the rest of the room temperature water to the flour and knead into a ball. Break the ball of dough into two balls and knead each for 8-10 minutes until smooth and spring backs. Return to the bowl, cover and allow to rest for at least an hour. Knead again 2-3 minutes. Cover and allow to rest 15 more minutes.

2. For the filling, In a blender, blend onion, green onions, garlic, ginger, and serrano chile until a thick/chunky puree.

3. Toast coriander, cumin, and all peppercorns in a pan for a couple minutes until fragrant. Pound in mortar and pestle or pulverize in a spice grinder.

4. Combine the lamb, onion puree, tumeric, chile powder, nutmeg, ghee, and salt in a bowl and mix thoroughly.

5. For momo achar (sauce), preheat the oven to 425F. Toss 2 cloves of garlic, chiles, and tomatoes in oil. Roast until the tomato skins is crispy, 30-40 minutes. Remove skin and from tomatoes and garlic cloves.

6. Toast the sesame seeds, cumin, mustard seeds, and sichuan peppercorns in a pan. Pound in mortar and pestle or blend in a blender.

7. Combine the sesame seed mixture and roasted tomatoes, chiles, garlic, ginger, and asafetida in a blender.

8. Heat the mixture in a sauce pan with 1/2 c water. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add asafetida, lime juice, and lime zest. Sprinkle with fenugreek leaves. Salt to taste.

9. To assemble the momos, take a chunk of dough the size of a cherry tomato and roll out until 3.5 inches in diameter. Place 1 round teaspoon of filling in the center and flatten slightly. Follow the little diagram.

Steam for 10 minutes.

Top in sauce. Serve!


Elra said...

Long process, but it all worth the effort. Sounds very tempting, really!
Love food like this, especially when I never tried and had it before, AND sounds so delicious!

Juliana said...

WOW, never had Nepalese food, it is true that is similar to the chinese ones, but the shape is so cute...interesting filling with lamb meat. I really would like to try it. Nice pictures with the sauce on it.

pigpigscorner said...

Momos..what a cute name. Similar to chinese dumplings but with so much other additional spices. Sounds yummy. For the peel, did you mean 3 cups flour?

katie said...

hahaha. three cups water...

You were right. flour it is. The recipe has been edited.

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

These are great. I love the idea of doing it as a party activity! Good directions on how to fold -- looks like quite an art! Very versatile with varied filling ideas!

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

I'm having a hard time picturing what these taste like, but judging by the spices it sounds really tasty. I had something similar to this when I was in Bhutan.

megan (brooklyn farmhouse) said...

I want a momo.

Justin said...

oh man, this looks ridiculously yummy

Anonymous said...

it is so yummy give it a try guys , its awesome i am Nepalese and we love our momos , if you feel wrapping momo is a big challenge dont worry its quite a challenge for us too , dont worry just hold all the edges together and twist it a bit so that it doesnt let the steam out

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