Momos are a delicious type of South Asian dumpling and a favorite in Nepal. In fact, momos are sold everywhere and are literally eaten by everyone in the country. Nepalese momos come in several versions and the veg momos are always vegan. For the most part, veg momos are stuffed with cabbage, onions, and ginger but are sometimes filled with potatoes and other vegetables.
Momos are usually served steamed or fried accompanied with chutney - a spicy dipping sauce that the locals call ashar.
In many restaurants, you also have the option to get your momos prepared in a spicy chili sauce – a dish called chili momos – or in a momo soup with noodles and assorted vegetables. Sometimes you can combine your momos with other local dishes and order your momos fried up with a plate of chow mein or cooked in thupka soup.
These delectable little dumpings are not only a specialty in Nepal but are also widely enjoyed in Bhutan, parts of Northern India, and Tibet where they are believed to have originated from.
Strangely enough, the only place outside of South Asia where we’ve managed to find great authentic momos is in Lisbon, Portugal. Lisbon has a growing Nepalese community and a high demand for well-made Nepalese food, and we couldn’t be happier about it!
The best part is that momos don’t cost that much more in Portugal than in Nepal! (Nepal – 10 momos for $1.20, Lisbon – 10 momos for 3€, roughly $3.50).
Momo Making - A Family Affair
Most restaurants in Nepal are family run and for many of these families it’s a part of the morning ritual to prepare the day’s supply of momos together. For busy restaurants that could mean making several hundred momos before guests start showing up. If you wake up early enough you might even get the chance to witness the family gathering to make these delicious dumplings. The whole momo making process runs smoothly and efficiently and is quite the sight to see.
Each person has their own station and specific tasks. One family member will be preparing the dough, another one will be chopping and mixing all the vegetables, while an older and more experienced family member will be folding the momos and finishing the process.
We were lucky enough to stumble upon momos in the making on one occasion. We ended up spending the whole morning just observing the process while enjoying the most freshly made momos we’ve ever eaten. Just look at this lady’s impeccable folding technique:
We love momos so much that we took full advantage of the situation and ate them on a daily basis throughout our travels in Nepal. In fact, we often ended up eating them several times a day and at around $1.20-$1.50 per plate it is quite the tasty bargain.
Most restaurants in Nepal serve 10 pieces per dish which would probably be enough for the majority of people but not for Vegans with Appetites. We always ordered a minimum of 20 pieces each. One of our favorite things to do is get ten steamed veg momos each and then split another 10 fried and 10 chili momos. Trust us, it makes for an epic feast!
Momos are truly a classic South Asian specialty that is loved by both locals and visitors alike. Eating momos is one of those food experiences that we truly and fully enjoy on a nerdy level. What can we say, we are suckers for dumplings served with spicy sauce!
If you ever get a chance to eat momos, run, don’t walk to try them. Momos are found in abundance throughout Nepal. You will find freshly made veg momos all the way from the street corners of Kathmandu to the tea houses en route to Mt. Everest Base Camp.