Wait Just a Mo:Mo… What is a Nepali Mo:Mo?

One of the most common Nepali food staples is the Mo:Mo and while I was in Nepal I ate a lot of these. Served as a snack, a main dish or even a dessert, there are a wide varieties of fillings, the most common being vegetable, chicken or buffalo. Steamed or fried, they can be plain and simple, swimming in a soup, or dressed up with sauces and spices, even a fast food chain has gotten in on their popularity and you can find them in a pizza…!

The Mo:Mo is similar to a Japanese gyoza, Chinese jiaozi or even a Polish pierogi, except for one thing – the filling has a masala curry based flavour representative of the region. Some believe it is a Tibetan dish introduced to Nepal from Tibet, however, others believe it was that Newar peoples of the Kathmandu Valley that introduced it to the Tibetans – kind of like Australia and New Zealand’s claim over the pavlova – I didn’t get into a fight over it.

I had tried mo:mo’s couple of times prior to heading to Nepal at Chulho Restaurant in Harris Park, Sydney. The platter had it all, steamed, fried and kothey style (half steamed, half fried – like a pot-sticker) in both chicken and vegetable flavour. My favourite was the steamed vegetable.

Mo:mo’s are found everywhere in Nepal at most local restaurants and even frozen from the supermarket. The outer layer is quite simply water and flour, sometime with a pinch of baking powder or yeast to make them a little more fluffy.

Generally they’re served with a mo:mo chutney or sauce made from tomatoes, chilli and garlic, however many variations are found throughout the country.

Sometimes the sauce will be a little more tangy from the addition of lemon or vinegar.

At the fine dining restaurant Jyunar, mo:mo’s were served as second course as part of a banquet. The sauces here were slightly different. A typical chilli street sauce, a green chilli and mint sauce and a thicker sesame pickle, a popular condiment in Nepal.

Across the road from my Apartment in Kathmandu was a small mo:mo shop selling vegetable, buff or chicken. These were often picked up for a group dinner and were dirt cheap at around NPR100 per serve of eight. Thats around AU$1.15 a serve or just over AU$0.14 each! I particularly liked the steamed vegetable ones here as I found the fried ones or kothey style a little chewy.

My friend Jen loves chilli, so she quite often ordered mo:mo’s in chilli sauce. It literally looked like the dish was on fire! She adored it though.

I had joked with my Nepali cohort that I should open a restaurant that served Italian Mo:Mo’s and name it Mo:Momia… we even came up with some flavours – Italian meatballs, lasagne, lamb ragout… A few days later we passed on of the few Pizza Huts in Kathmandu and saw they were already using the name – although slightly different concept – the Mo:Mo-Mia pizza. We had to try one. It actually wasn’t too bad either!

My overall preference was for steamed vegetable mo:mo’s. My least favourite was buffalo (or buff as it is called in Nepal). If you’ve ever tried a mo:mo, what is your favourite?

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Eha says:

    A lovely description but I have to smile – I am a European-born Australian living for decades in the Southern Highlands south of Sydney. Have eaten momos all my life, made them for over 50 years methinks . . . and they are available all over the place !!! Yours are very nice and true to ‘nature’ 😉 !!!

    1. Wow! I had never heard of them until before I went to Nepal. I am happy to hear they are being made here! Feel free to share your recipe!! Matty

  2. Eha says:

    *smile* You just have not come upon them ! Both Melbourne and Sydney have more than a dozen momo restaurants and they are available in many North Indian ones all over the country. And – go to both Coles and Woolworths and you have quite a choice in the frozen food aisle 😉 ! I mean dumplings are hugely popular in most SE Asian countries and S Asia. Momos are just singled out because they are always steamed and always have a filling say compared to Chinese dim sum . . . . lazily I usually use wonton wrappers and the fillings change from day to day 🙂 !!!

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