Monday, February 18, 2013

Momo (i.e. Nepali Dumplings)

Mmmmm....I want some mo' momo!  At least that is what my husband always says.  He's so punny!

I once spent a summer in San Francisco.  It was the summer after my freshman year of college.  And it was amazing!  I credit that summer with making me much of who I am today.  I spent a lot of time wandering the city and soul searching.  Spending most of my free time alone or with my 6 month old niece (who I was a nanny too).  I think I wrote lots of poetry sitting on the beach.  You know, being artsy and all that.

But you know what was the most life changing part of that summer?

Learning how to make momo!

My brother-in-law is from Nepal.  Much of the food we ate that summer was rice and dahl (lentils).  He also had an amazing ability to make the most delicious vegetable pasta dishes--I'm not sure where that come from.  But one day we went to some friends' house for momo.  I had no idea what a treat I was in for.

We got there and dinner wasn't already prepared.  This was fairly typical of any Nepali or Indian dinner party I had ever been too so I was unprepared when it was announced that it was time to wrap the momo.

A large and fragrant bowl of ground meat and vegetables was placed on the table along with some round pasta-like wraps.  I was then instructed on the many methods of momo wrapping.

When the momo was cooked and I took my first bite, I knew that I didn't want that to be the last time I tasted these flavorful dumplings.  I was taught how to make momo that day and wrote the instructions down in my journal.  It was THAT life changing.

Want to know how?  Here you go.

Meat and Vegetable Momo

note: there are many versions of momo from all meat to all vegetable.  This version of half meat half vegetable was how I was taught to make momo.  I've used both ground chicken and ground turkey.  Many people use pork.  I'd shy away from beef.  It just wouldn't be authentic as much of the Nepali population is Hindu and they don't eat beef.  
Serves (really it depends, I probably couldn't win a momo eating contest but I'd sure love the chance to try, and I'd do okay.  I usually plan on this serving 3-4 hungry momo loving adults with no side dish and likely no dessert.  Who wants to waste stomach space on dessert when you could just eat mo' momo? *tee hee*) 

Recipe from Sunni and adapted over the years to fit my preferences.  I encourage you to play around with the seasonings and spices and even the vegetables.

1 lb ground meat (I prefer chicken)
1 head broccoli, coarsely chopped
1/2 head cauliflower, coarsely chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped (if you don't LOVE cilantro, then reduce to half)
1/2 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced or grated
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoons whole cumin seed
salt and pepper to taste
1 pkg round wonton wraps (found near the tofu in your grocery store)

1. In a small frying pan  heat the oil.  When it is hot add the cumin seed.  Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute until the seed start to brown slightly and pop.
2. In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients except meat and wonton wraps.  Taste and adjust seasonings to taste. (Remember that you'll be adding meat so you want it to be over seasoned at this point, it takes a lot of salt to satisfy me, but it always does,  feel free to add more ginger, garlic and cumin as well.)
3. Add meat to vegetables and mix well. 
4. Now prepare your wrap space by placing out bowls of water, your wraps and the filling with plenty of small spoons.  Enlist the help of your friends or family members to wrap the momo by wetting the outside edges of the wraps putting about a 1-2 teaspoons worth of filling in the center of the wrap and closing in any manner you choose.  (Be creative with wrapping your momo.  I prefer to fold and press one side of the wrap and leave the other side flat.  The husband brings four edges together in a little hobo packet.  Many will just pinch the two sides together to create half circles.)
5.  Steam the momo in batches for 10 minutes a batch (I like to brush the steamer baskets with a little bit of oil to keep the momo from sticking).  When we have lots of guests over, we like to have 3+ steamers going (we borrow our guests' steamers) to make sure we have a constant stream of hot momo.

Note: Momo is usually served with char--a tomato based dipping sauce.  When I first had momo it was served with a very simple, surely americanized sauce of tomato soup mixed with soy powder.  I don't know what soy powder is or where to find it.  I use soy sauce in the soup to taste and only dilute the soup a little more than half. 

What the husband thinks: He LOVES momo.  He's always suggesting we have friends over for momo.  It is essentially a social food and we never have it without company.  You see, I usually get out of much of the wrapping that way as I'm running around attending to the steamers and other matters.  Hee hee.

What the kid ate:  He won't touch the momo.  Sooooo....we usually make him sweet potato fries to eat instead.  One day he'll love momo.   One day....


  1. Ashley, I've made them a couple of times with Amber. It was fun and so tasty. I will have to give the recipe a try.


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