Momos: fun to say, and even more fun to eat. While we’ve tried our share of dumpling-like foods around the world, Nepalese momos are definitely one of our favorites. The filling can range from spiced meat to cheese to vegetables, and they can be steamed, fried, or steamed and then pan fried. The dipping sauces they’re served with are equally varied- I don’t think we had the same sauce twice! These snacks were pure comfort food for us at tea houses on the trek to Mt. Everest Base Camp, so we knew we had to pay them homage when we returned home.
Our Favorite in Nepal
Having mostly just traveled in Europe prior to arriving in Nepal, Kathmandu was unlike any other place I’d ever been. The city was an assault on my senses: the dusty, rocky roads were congested with honking cars and massive cows; brightly colored prayer flags were strung up everywhere, blowing in the wind; and the smell of unfamiliar spices wafted from little shacks where families sat down to eat – it all was a bit overwhelming.
So on our first day in the city when we were wandering, only slightly lost (ok, maybe really lost), among the nameless side streets of Kathmandu, I was incredibly excited to see momos at a street food vendor. Having researched what Nepalese foods to try, I knew these were one of them. It was so reassuring to see something at least somewhat familiar.
The momos were deep fried and filled with spicy meat. As dumplings are such a universal food, eating them was sort of grounding but at the same time made me think, “Wow, we’re not in Europe anymore!” Never having had Nepalese food before, the cumin and coriander in the filling made me think of Indian food.
We tried other Nepalese food but none was quite as amazing as momos. We ate at restaurants that featured nothing but dozens of variations of momos. These little dumplings were also one of our comfort foods on the trek to Mt. Everest Base Camp. At least after hiking for hours upon hours each day during the trek we were able to justify the caloric intake.
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We are lucky enough to have a friend of a friend from Nepal, via Emily from Let’s Roam Wild and Shadhana Sharma, who kindly shared their family’s momo recipe with us. We tried it out a few weeks ago and give it rave reviews.
For the filling we used ground pork, but you could really use any meat you like. We also did a vegetarian version where we substituted about a pound of finely shredded carrots and cabbage for the meat. There are also a number of options for cooking; the easiest method is to just steam them for about 10 minutes. Our favorite method, however, is to steam them first and then pan fry them to get a golden, crispy wrapper.
Spicy Dipping Sauce
1- 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 medium onion
7 cloves garlic, sliced
1 oz. fresh ginger, sliced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne (if you like it hot!)
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
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In a medium saute pan over medium-high heat, saute the onion, ginger, and garlic until the onions are translucent. Add the tomatoes and spices and cook for a few minutes. For a smooth sauce, puree in a blender or with an immersion blender.
1 lb. ground pork
1 tsp. salt
sprinkle of cayenne
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
1/4 of a bunch of cilantro
1/2 a bunch of green onions, sliced thinly
In a medium saute pan over medium-high heat, cook all ingredients together until meat is fully cooked through.
Small bowl filled with water
Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of the wonton wrapper. Dip your finger in the bowl of water and moisten the outer edge of the wonton wrapper. Fold the wrapper over the filling to create a triangle, and curl the points of the triangle inward to make a crescent shape. Steam for about 10 minutes.