Momos (filled dumplings), are a traditional Tibetan favorite and we had
gorged on these during our visit to Dharmsāla. Upper
Dharamsala (McLeod Ganj), has many exiled Tibetans living among choc-a-block
with stores selling (expensive) Tibetan art, clothes and other wares. All over
the market we found girls selling "Momos", but initially I was reluctant to try
them as they could contain non-veg fillings and the girl selling them did not
speak English, Hindi or any other Indian language except Tibetian language,
which none of us could understand.... but that lil girl had such a sweet,
smiling face (almost everyone there has a natural happy and smiling face all
the time, something we city dwellers seem to have forgotten) and mistaking me
for a local started a volley of Tibetan, so all I could do was shake my head
and smile. Sign language didnt help us and funnily each of us ended up going in
tangents all-together. She would over enthusiastically serve the momo's and i
would refuse and she could not understand why.
She was serving them with a flaming red watery chutney which looked so tantalising. Luckily the next day she had a friend (an older girl) who understood a smattering of English and explained that these are made with maida as the outer dough with vegetable fillings and although they look very similar to the South Indian steamed modaka's (sweet dumplings of rice dough covering, stuffed with jaggery and coconut) the similarity ends right there. These salty momo's are served with a chilli chutni which was too spicy (will score an 11 on a scale of 1-10) even by Indian standards, but they were very very tasty.... simply out of this world. There were other vendors too but I liked her's the most. Moreso there was something about this kid, that innocence, her smiling face, so I used to walk that lane atleast 3 times a day just to eat those divinely spicy dumplings. She (with the help of her translator friend) was sweet enough to gimme the recipe. Here it is :
A1.Items for the Filling :
- Potatoes(*), boiled.
- Onions or finely chopped spring onions.
- Fresh coriander, chopped finely.
- 3 fresh red/green chillies,
- Salt to taste.
- Oil for cooking.
(*) Optionally i also used other vegetables like corn, mushrooms (chopped finely), paneer (cottage cheese), ... as a filling.
A2.Dough for the Wrapper :
Take plain maida (flour), add a pinch of salt and bind together with Water.
A3.Chilli Chutni(sauce) :
- 2 tablespoons oil
- lotsa fresh red/green chillies
- 1 small onion, chopped finely and sauted golden brown (optional).
- Half tomato, (puree after removing the skin. it will reduce the spice quotient.)
- Few sprigs of finely chopped coriander
- 1/4 cup water.
To make the filling, boil and mash the potatoes. Leave to cool. Heat the olive (or vegetable) oil in a saucepan and cook the onions for 5 minutes until soft. Add the mushrooms, cover, and cook for 5 minutes until soft. Leave to cool. When all the vegetables are cooled, mix with the grated cheese, chopped coriander, salt, and green chillies.
A2.Dough for the Wrapper : To make the dough, mix baking soda and a pinch of salt with the flour with enough water and briefly knead to form a smooth consistency. Leave it covered at room temperature for a few hours. Later take a rolling pin and roll out a small portion to a 3-4 inch diameter. The wrapper should not be too thin. Take each wrapper and place a tablespoonful of the cooled vegetable mixture, then fold over and press the edges together, making sure they are well sealed. It should look like a modaka (3 dimensional triangle or a prism). Press the edges at the top with your thumb and first two fingers, working around the circle to form small pleats at the crown and seal.
Fill a small steamer with water, first boiling the rack so the dumplings do not stick. Bring the water to a boil. Place the momos on the steamer rack, spacing them well apart as they will expand and stick together if they are too close. Steam for 20 minutes, or until they are firm and shiny/glossy on the surface.
A3.CHILLI CHUTNI : To make the chilli chutni, heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add some garlic, onion, and cook till soft. Add fresh red chilli paste and salt, some more oil and cook for 5 minutes. Pour some water and simmer for 10 minutes. Throw finely cut coriander on top.