The greatest dumpling in the world “The Momo”

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

The history of the dumpling is almost the history of human-kind itself.  Since grains were gathered in earliest times, grain dust “contaminated” with water was found to be delicious and to respond well to all manner of cooking techniques.  With the transition to agrarian economies, it was soon found that rare or more nutritious foodstuffs sufficient for one person could be extended to feed an entire Family when padded out with dough, and cultures all over the world found themselves cooking these pastry pockets in the carcases of the animals they roasted, simmered carefully in their day to day soups, or steamed in water.  

Many discovered amazingly similar techniques to others considering their separation by mountains and oceans, (the fufu of Central and Western Africa is essentially the same as Yorkshire pudding, Italian Ravioli deploys identical mechanisms as per the creation of Polish Pierogi,  and the dim sum of Canton is difficult to distinguish from Georgia’s Khinkalis). 

Others created tastes and textures uniquely distinguishing their culture from all others, incorporating flours from local vegetables (e.g. the Vietnamese banh bot loc from tapioca flour or the Swedish Pitepalt from potato flour), some baking instead of steaming/simmering like the Amish apple dumplings, or further refining the traditional flour and water dough recipe such as Czech’s svestkove knedily with doughs of flour, milk, butter and egg, or the Philippines siopao made from a yeast dough, but there is no dumpling in the world more unique than the Nepali momo.  

    The momo’s history itself is unique, being a mechanism for padding out scarce dough material with more readily available yak meat, (rather than vice versa), and the momo was designed specifically to contain the meat juices during the steaming process so as to be released upon biting into them. 

 Momos are not the easily made snack most dumplings are, demanding such efforts as are usually reserved only for special occasions, the kind of efforts that require people to work together and the momo can truly be said to be a community strengthening food.  Even more unique to the momo are the three sets of Nepali spices and herbs used separately, one for the dumpling itself, one for the steaming soup, and the other for the accompanying chutney, a technique some say to be unique to the Newar peoples of Kathmandu until only relatively recently, and although any recipe can be tailored to preference, in its authentic form, it remains one of the world’s only spicy-hot “comfort foods”.  Believed to be a suite of Newar variations to its Tibetan forebear, brought back from trading expeditions between the two cultures, the momo can not be easily compared to any other dumpling. 

 Even taking into account each region’s variation according to seasonal availabilities of herbs and spices coinciding with the major festivals, the heart of this unique half-moon dumpling is one culinarily  exquisite experience for them all, that being of a delicately firm shell, tasty itself, but  bursting with delicious soupy juices around a spicy mixture of meat and vegetables that’s so delicious it warms your heart as well as your stomach, and is an experience that can not be done justice in words, you really have to try this icon of culture and cuisine yourself to appreciate why everyone loves them so.

Cromwell James Everett Kidner Hooper

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

Comments are closed.