02 June 2013

Momos - Nepali Comfort Food

Please sir, can I have some 'mo?

Today is a big, emotional day. The boy just left (yes, again - and for real this time. After my last blog, he came back to Kathmandu for a week to solve some technical difficulties with the bike and paperwork) and I am having a small going away get together at my home away from home, Tings. The farewell to the boy is less fraught with complicated emotions than the last time, as we have decided to just say "fuck it" and make sure we see eachother again. But it's still sad.

So I am going to take what could potentially be a rich source for a yearning, wanky paean to time-passing, goodbyes and romance and instead write about something extremely uncomplicated: Momos.

Pork kothey momos - to die for.

I have a theory that every culture adores dumplings. Seriously - whether it's the Peruvian empanada, the Ukrainian perogy or the Chinese xiao long bao, people around the world love them some stuffed dough - and who can blame them? Dumplings in any form are one of life's simplest and most delicious comfort foods, and momos - the Tibetan/Nepali contribution - are no exception.

When I visited - and ate my way through - Beijing, I very nearly got a tattoo of the Chinese character for "dumpling" on the side of my ass, thinking of all of the delightful exchanges that would follow:
           Chinese speaker: "You know that means dumpling, right? Not 'peace.'
           Me: "I know. I just really like dumplings."

Nearly every restaurant in Kathmandu serves momos. From a streetside stall hawking 40 rupee bowls to a gourmet serving that costs 400 rupees at the Hyatt, you can always count on one thing - they will be delicious. That's the thing about momos - even when they aren't very good, they're still pretty good.

The most common fillings include buff (the Nepali colloquial term for water buffalo, a beef substitute in this Hindu country), chicken and veg, but more daring establishments will offer paneer, pork (when religiously appropriate), potato and even chocolate or fruit. A local chain called "Bakery Cafe" hosts an annual event called Momo Mania - and this year they had eighteen different flavours!

Momos are traditionally served steamed, but they are also popular pan-fried (one side, called 'kothey' or both sides) or deep fried, and are sometimes sauteed with chili sauce, onions and peppers and called "C-Momo."

After a walk around Patan's Durbar Square yesterday afternoon, we decided to grab some plates of 'mos as an afternoon snack (which is when Nepalis normally eat them). Royal Saino Momos is an institution on Durbar Marg, famous for their offbeat flavours (mushroom and peanut!) and their sauces. The sauce is an integral part of the experience, and it's usually spicy and sweet with a little bit of masala flavour.

Ta Da!

We ordered a plate of kothey pork and a steamed basket of veg momos and they were delicious - the kothey perfectly golden on one side and dripping with tasty oil and the steamed veg all gingery and chewy in exactly the right way.

Royal Saino is a little bit more expensive that the norm, with a plate of momos costing about 150 rupees (average is more like 80 - 100) but they are really, really good. Add an Everest Beer and you have the perfect 3pm combination.

Meet your meat.... or meat and greet?

So while I will miss Nepal - and I will definitely miss the boy - wherever I go in the world I will be able to find comfort food that will remind me of this place and the amazing times I had here.

Gyoza. Sui Mai. Vareniki. Ravioli. Wontons.

And of course, momos.

Just call me l'il dumpling. But don't actually.

1 comment:

Angie said...

Hi. The dumplings look delicious. Definitely have to find some recipes.