Saturday, April 9, 2011

There's A New Momo In Town. Fast, Easy Dumplings For A Crowd

   I'm Italian. Growing up in my household, Momo meant one thing and it wasn't the Museum of Modern Art. Momo evoked images of a guy in a camel hair coat with a Cuban planted firmly in the corner of his mouth. Not a very nice guy. Not somebody you wanna mess with. Definitely not someone you wanna bring to a party. Capische?!
Old Momo
New Momo
   Flash forward and after 21 years of cooking my way through all sorts of Indian dishes, a few years ago I discovered momo. Now this momo is actually a dumpling that hails from Tibet and has worked it's way down into India. Turns out there is a franchise chain called Momo Station based out of Mumbai which is getting very popular. So there's that. Short of getting on Air India and zooming over to Mumbai, or investing about 200,000 rupees to start one of your own, wouldn't it be great to be able to make some fresh homemade momo anytime you want them? It's easy. I mean really, really, really easy. I am not kidding.
  When I first made momo I went old school. I made momo dough by hand and rolled it out and filled my momo. That was good. Then I went and planned a party where I was going to serve A LOT of momo. I made my momo filling. I made my momo dough. People started arriving. I couldn't work fast enough. It was like that old I Love Lucy episode but instead of chocolates there were momo.

   I couldn't keep up. There was no way this was going to work. Alan and I were busy with guests and food. So I called Mr. X who hadn't arrived yet and said  "Help!! Stop at a market on the way here. Bring me won ton wrappers stat!" He did. Two large packages.
   Paula Wolfert was at the house that night.  She grabbed one of the first momo right out of the steamer and said it was good.
   Later she came up to me in the kitchen and said, "Did you change something from the first momo I had?"
   "Uh....yes," I said. (Damn caught!I)  "I used wonton wrappers from the store for the later ones."
  "Ah" she said, "because the first ones had chi. The others taste great, but the dough doesn't have chi"
  Chi pronounced chee is the natural energy of the universe. In other words, vital. Alive. That is what you get when you roll your dough by hand, cut it out and fill your momo.  I will tell you how to do that. The other way for a crowd, is fast and also delicious and for those who want a quick and tasty snack on the party tray, a miracle of ease. Here's what to do:

 Momo Filling
  There are a lot of fillings that one can use for momo, both meat and veg. Since most of what I serve are vegetarian snacks, I always offer some chicken or shrimp momo, so that's what I'll tell you about.

 Filling for 

Shrimp Momo

 Place 1lb of fresh cooked small bay shrimp in a food processor and grind it to a rough paste.
 Mix in:
  A few Thai basil leaves (or regular basil) finely chopped
  1 shallot very finely chopped
  1/2 tsp of salt or to taste
  1 tsp of kashmiri chili or 1/4 tsp each of cayenne and paprika
  1 tsp of ground coriander
  A pinch of cardamom
    Mix it all together well.
 The chicken momo mix is the same. Just ground chicken meat. Grind it a bit more in a food processor so you have a rough paste.

 Making the Momo
 Open a package of won ton or sue gow wrappers
 Drop 1 tsp of filling into the center of each and then twist and pinch it closed at the top like a little purse.
 Put a pot of water on to boil.
 Spray the levels of a bamboo steamer with non-stick spray and place the momo on them.
 Cover the bamboo steamer and place it on top of the pot of boiling water.
Let the momo cook for about 10 or 12 minutes. You are done.
Serve them up with a nice chutney or dipping sauce.
   This recipe will make a lot of momo. If you're serving them at a party along with other stuff, this will make about 30 or so. I didn't really count as I didn't get but one, they were gone that fast.

   For purists like me who want to make just a few momo but with the real deal dough for steaming, here's what to do:
 Momo Dough
 For a basic momo dough, mix together:
  3 and 1/2 cups of flour
  1/2 tsp of salt
 When it's well mixed add in:
  About 1 cup of room temperature water.
  Add the water a little bit at a time. If it gets too moist just add a bit more flour to firm it up. Knead it for about 5 minutes or so until It becomes nice and elastic.
  Roll it into a ball and set it aside in a bowl. Cover it with a damp cloth and let it rest for about 30 minutes. That's it. Very simple... except when you're expecting a herd of people. One great thing about this momo dough is that it can be frozen for momos later, momos all the time, any time you want them.
 Here's one final momo.
Worlds' Largest Momo Found in Sonoma

  If you like these momos, cruise on over to Food 52 and give me some love. I've entered a contest over there featuring dumplings.
  Meanwhile, back in Sonoma, we're smack in the middle of the Sonoma International Film Festival. Alan and I are on the Festival Jury so we've been watching a lot of films. Tomorrow we'll be going down to the Plaza to check out all the food and wine and movie action. Tomorrow night is also the big Gala and dinner for Susan Sarandon. We'll take the camera with us so follow along on Twitter @kathygori


  1. I love these momos! Momo in Japanese means peach :D

    They look like Chinese dumplings or wantons that I make! Thank you for sharing

  2. Wow, the Momos look so delicate and scrumptious Kathy!

  3. Hey Momo mama...chi or no chi I would scarf these down anyday.

  4. The entire write up was entertaining, Kathi! I am taken by your interest in Indian cooking - I love your easy momo recipe.
    Momos as I know them are a Tibetan dish and very popular in Nepal as well. I will certainly be visiting that Mumbai Momo place the next time I am back home :)

  5. @Now Serving,
    thanks! I'd love to hear how the place in Mumbai is, if you go please take a picture and share all the details with us. I got my original momo recipe from a cookbook given me by a friend from Nepal, then Atul Kochhar put them in his book also.

  6. Momos are my favorites!! But I got to say, I love the thick almost bao-like Tibetan style ones. Then again, I would be more than willing to help relieve you with some of those momos really happy. I want a photo op next to that giant momo!

  7. Belinda @zomppa,
    I love that bao like dough too, but I used the wrappers because I couldn't make them fast enough for the party. I always have some traditional momo dough in the freezer though. It seems to keep well that way.

  8. Everybody has their own Momo, I guess:) Mine is the image of this old Uncle of mine, who had really downwards eyes and big folds underneath, resembling a Basset hound. When I her "momo", I see his sad face:) At least I know he will not shot me or place my feet in drying concrete like your Momo:)
    These look easy to make and at the same time extremely delicious. Thanks for opening my momo horizons:)

  9. These looks wonderful Kathy and sounds delicious! My daughter would love these!
    Blessings, Catherine xoxo

  10. These looks like chinese dumplings. so well done :)

  11. Yumminess in a small parcel! So now a Mumbaikar has learnt of a new restaurant in Mumbai via Sonoma! :)

  12. Momo is a Nepali word and Momos are Nepalese(from Nepal) dumplings...its somehow sad to read someone as great a cook as you call it an Indian dish! Its similar to chinese dumplings but Momo itself is from Nepal. Momos are the most popular dish in Nepal and you can get it everywhere and in every restaurant .The restos in India are not the original...I am sorry but it'd have been nice it you'd have researched a bit.

    1. Yes, I should have mentioned in my original post the Nepalese origin of momo. If you look at earlier comments posted above I mentioned that the recipe I used came from a Nepalese cookbook given me by a friend from Nepal, then Atul Kochar the Indian chef put them in his cookbook also referencing the Nepalese origin of the dish. Thanks for the reminder, sometimes I get so caught up in writing about the food, I neglect a vital fact.

    2. Thank you co much Kathy for the reply...somehow, I just saw it! Somehow, it feels bad at times when Nepalese culture and food are confused with Indian...Its just that Nepal,and the food is comparatively lesser known...and living in the shadow of a cultural and culinary giant as India is not easy. Don't get me wrong-I love Indian food! :)



Blog Widget by LinkWithin