Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Swallowing Clouds

Momo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Momo_(food)
The title of this post is from the Cantonese word for momo - yuntun - which means swallowing clouds.
If I were asked one of those 'If you had to eat just ONE food for the rest of your life, what would it be?' questions, my answer would definitely be the Momo. I used to gorge on momo-s when I was in Delhi - Dilli Haat momo-s are famous for their variety, and also Lajpat Nagar, in the makeshift shop of the two Tibetan sisters. They would serve you a plate (usually 6 or 8) of these hot juicy dumplings for just Rs 30, and dippng them into the red chilli sauce and biting into one on a bleak wintry evening went a long way in keeping me warm and happy.

In Chennai, however, I ran short of such friendly momo joints. (I also ran out of the wintry evenings, but we shall save that story for later.) The expensive Chinese restaurants here serve a variety that are about Rs 140 for six. And that doesn't work out for a momo-happy person like me. One day, I was invited to a Bengali colleague's house, where her mother served home-made momo-s cooked in a microwave.

I was surprised because I was told that making momo-s at home is almost impossible, that is requiers one of those 'double-decker' steam cookers that you need to get from Manipur/Kathmandu. I borrowed the recipe from her and tried it at home. The momo-s were a success and I have been a happier woman since!


For momo wrapper:
White flour
For momo filling: (I have worked only with chicken but you can adapt the same for beef or pork)
Chicken mince
Onions or leeks
Green chillies

Note: Steam the chicken with the rest of the ingredients. Rely more on fresh spices than old powders.

Making the momo wrapper:
Now this is tricky. The key to making the momos is that the wrappers are completely closed, no open spaces at all because you want the momo to get juicy. If there are openings in the wrappers your meat will dry out and you won't get to taste all that delicious juice. There are two main shapes of momo-s - the round shape and the half-moon shape. I'll describe both for you.

For the Round Momo:
For both shapes, you will need to put one circle of dough in your left hand, and add a tablespoonful of filling in the center of the dough. With your right hand, begin to pinch the edge of the dough together. You don't need to pinch much dough in the first pinch - just enough to make a small fold between your thumb and forefinger. Now you will have a little piece of dough pinched together. Keep your thumb in place, and continue along the edge of the circle with your forefinger, grabbing the next little piece of dough, and folding and pinching it down. Close the hole with a final pinch. Make sure you close the hole on top of the momo. That way you don't lose the juice!

For the Half-Moon Momo:
The half-moon momo is very pretty. For this style, you begin the same as with the round momo style, holding the flat circular dough in your left hand and putting a tablespoon of filling in the middle of the dough. Then you have to fold your circle of dough in half, covering over the filling. Now press together the two edges of the half circle so that there is no open edge in your half circle, and the filling is completely enclosed in the dough. You will now have the basic half-moon shape, and you can make your momo pretty by pinching and folding along the curved edge of the half circle. Start at one tip of the half-moon, and fold over a very small piece of dough, pinching it down. Continue folding and pinching, moving along the edge until you reach the other tip of the half-moon.

Tip: As you are making your momo's, you will need to have a non-stick surface and a damp cloth or lid handy to keep the momo's you've made from drying out while you're finishing the others.

Making the momo sauce:
Make a paste of dried red chillies, add garlic paste, tomato sauce, and a little olive oil.
Steam these momos in the microwave for 1 minute. Serve with hot sauce.


wildflower said...

tried it out last nite, wid veggies...thanx 2 u i had sumthin new fr dinner...keep postin :0

Nepali Akash said...


This entry reminds me of my fav momos back home in Nepal.

RS said...

Hey thanks guys!

priloza said...

Hey, there's a Dilli Haat in Alwarpet opposite the old Lifestyle. Does it belong to the same chain? If yes, I'm heading there!

dharmabum said...

sounds yum. would have to try it with veggies though.

am really beginning to like your food blog. and since u say u live close to grand sweets(walking distance for me!), i'd also hope to drop by sometime to get a first hand experience :)

RS said...


You are in Chennai, why did I always think that you're in Pondicherry?

See you soon!

dharmabum said...

hey, work in madras. pondy is my home. started blogging there, never bothered to change it on my profile. and its a good thing, grabs a lil attention u know :D