Momo is invented in Tibet. The history of Momo is Nepal dates back to as early as the fourteenth century. Momo was initially a Tibetan food. It was later introduced to Nepal, China, India and as far away as Japan by a Nepalese princess who was married to a Tibetan king(Songtsen Gampo) in the late fifteenth century. In Tibet, momo is the most liked food. Yak meat is preferred meat for momo. Tibetan momo meat mixture consist of meat, onion and salt. Tibetan momo is eaten with soup. In Newari, one of Nepal's oldest languages Momo means cooking by steaming. Momo is to Nepal what pizza is Italy. Momo is like Mount Everest - one of the symbols of Nepal. Momo has spread beyond national boundaries and is growing popular in other parts of the world, too. Countries have taken influence from Tibet and modified momo as per their liking.
|Place of origin||Tibet|
|Region or state||Nepal|
|Associated national cuisine||Tibetan cuisine|
|Main ingredients||White-flour-and-water dough; meat, vegetable, tomato aachar, soybean-perilla-peanut-sesame for Jhol aachar.|
|Variations||Steam-momo, Kothey momo, Jhol momo, C-momo, Fry-momo, Open-momo, fried momo|
|350 to 1000 (35 to 100 per piece) kcal|
|Similar dishes||baozi, jiaozi, mantou, buuz, gyoza, mandu, manti|
Momo is the colloquial form of the Tibetan word "mog mog". The different names for the dumpling include Assamese: মম; Bengali: মোমো; Hindi: मोमो;Ladakhi: མོག་མོག་ Nepali: मम; Nepal Bhasa: मम, small momo - ममचा; Tibetan: མོག་མོག་, Wylie: mog mog; simplified Chinese: 馍馍; traditional Chinese: 饃饃; pinyin: mómo.
As for the Himalayan momo, the dish is believed to have spread to Nepal along with the influx of the Tibetan diaspora. Since this dish was initially popular among the Newar community of the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, one prevalent belief is that travelling 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. In Tibet, the filling of the dish was typically meat, such as yak and occasionally potatoes and cheese. However, after arriving in the Indo-Gangetic Plains, the momo was made vegetarian in the modern era 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 to the prevalence of Himalayan style momo in the southern half of India.
Momo is a type of steamed dumpling with some form of filling, most commonly buff and it is originally from Tibet. Momo has become a delicacy in Nepal and Tibetan communities in Bhutan, as well as people of the Indian regions of Darjeeling, Ladakh, Sikkim, Assam, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh. In Pakistan, Gilgit-Baltistan region it is known as mamtoo.
Traditionally, momo is prepared with ground/minced meat filling, but this has changed in the modern era, and the fillings have become more elaborate. These days, momo is prepared with virtually any combination of ground meat, vegetables, tofu, paneer cheese, soft chhurpi (local hard cheese) and vegetable and meat combinations.
- Meat: Different types of meat fillings are popular in different regions. In Nepal, Tibet, Ladakh, Sikkim and Bhutan, pork, chicken, goat meat and buffalo meat are commonly used. 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.
- Vegetables: Finely chopped cabbage, carrot, soy granules, potato, flat bean (lilva kachori) or chayote (iskush) are used as fillings in India and Nepal.
- Cheese: Usually fresh cheese (paneer) or the traditional soft chhurpi is used. This variety is common in India and Eastern Nepal.
- Khoa: Momo filled with milk solids mixed with sugar are popular as a dessert in the Kathmandu Valley.
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 flavourful, juicy momos. 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.
Momo are traditionally steamed but can also be deep-fried or pan-fried and cooked in soup. Momo is usually served with chilli 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 Jhol achar. Sauces can be thick or thin in consistency depending on the eatery (locally called chutney/achār), usually made with tomato or peanut, sesame and soybean as the base ingredient. In Kathmandu valley, the traditional way of serving momo (called momochā or local momo) is ten ping-pong ball-sized round momo drowned in a sauce called jhol achar, infused with Timur pepper (Nepali pepper, a variety of Sichuan pepper). Jhol momo has warm or hot tomato-based broth poured over momo (not cooked in the broth), whereas Jhol achhar is served in-room /cooled temperature. One of the main ingredients of jhol achar is Nepali hog plum (lapsi), but if this is unavailable, lemon or lime juice may be used.
Soup momo or mok-thuk (Tibetan) is another way to serve momos, where the momos are either cooked in broth for a type of dumpling soup or steamed momos, which are added to the broth. Pan-fried momo is also known as kothey momo. Steamed momo served in hot sauce is called C-momo. There are also a variety of dumplings of Nepal found in the Indian state of Sikkim and Darjeeling district, including Tingmo and Tiebao.
Kothey, a pan-fried momo variety from "The Bakery Cafe" in Nepal
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