Updated: Jan 18
What is MOMO, and where did it start?
Momo is a meat dumpling. Everyone has their style of momo cooking; arguments can perhaps best be avoided. People often wonder where momo originated. There is no doubt that momo originated in Northeastern China.
The word "Momo" means steam bun in the Shannxi language. This province was a gateway to northwest China along the Silk road. Still today, it is famous for tourists to visit. You cannot travel through the northwestern area without being tempted by these delicious juicy dumplings. Each city has its own variation. Some make dough thicker, and some are finer and more elaborately twisted at the top. Meat-filled dumplings and buns are the most popular snack, usually accompanied by tea in the tea houses.
It is a trendy dish to make during the Chinese New year.
"In A.D.640, Most of the domestic arts practiced in Tibet were introduced by the Chinese, prominent among these innovators being the Chinese wife (Princess Wencheng, (Kong-jo), daughter of the Emperor Tai T~un) of King Srong- tsan-Gampo, who…taught them butter-making, tea-drinking, brewing beer, improved methods of weaving, eating of food with chopsticks instead of with the bare hands, many forms of cooking, and milling of flour. "The Land of Lama" by David Macdonald publication Jan1,1929 Birth of Momocha in Kathmandu
Based on Tibet's history, I believe momo was introduced in Tibet by princess Wencheng in the Royal kitchen of Tibet. Especially T-momo (steam bun); Thendek (noodle) meat momo on special occasions. The momo making and serving traditions were believed to be brought to Tibet by Silk Road travelers and traders in Tibet. As they continued to travel it spread all over the region. Those days Newar Traders known as "Lhasha Newa Sahu" from Kathmandu introduced momo and noodles eating into their own houses and neighborhood. One thing that changed was that Tuladhar Clan started adding spices and aromatic ingredients, which provided a different layer of flavor than the original momo. That's the Birth of Newari Momo-cha. The "cha" word is added in the end because it is beloved food. In most Newari families they make momocha on cold days, especially on Kawati Punhi and Yomari Punhi. When we were kids, eating momocha was a special affair. Whole families gathered around and began by mincing meat, ginger, shallots, and grinding masala from early morning preparation. The meat had to be a perfect combination between marrow, fat, water, and masala to get maximum flavor and juiciness. Making the dough's right consistency and pinching the dough into a small flat disk "pa" is the key to making the best momocha. The best part was having all the family members together stuffing the dumplings. These are stuffed with buffalo meat, (or stuffed with vegetables, potatoes, or cottage cheese known as Kuwa). This is a perfect excuse for families to prepare huge trays of momocha to share. It is served with a few varieties of sauces. They are not difficult to make, but it is labor-intensive work and takes practice to make it. The result is very satisfying once it is in the mouth because of its flavor and juiciness. For years, momocha was only famous among Newar people because many other castes did not eat buffalo meat. According to historical evidence, the commercial momo began in the ally of Tyoda tole, in 1950 by Nati kaji. "Nati chaya momo pa:sa" became a place where many young people hung out. He made one of a kind momocha which was served in Lapte ("Sal leaf"), three to four momocha at a time. In the same period of time, another momocha pasa was opened by Kalu Maharjan in Yathaka tole. Few people started "Hasa momo pasa" street nightstand, where they sold dumplings the size of large marbles known as "Guchaa momo." The fun part of going to eat at these places was that they only served fresh food for a certain time. There were three famous places: Jansaiwa hall area, currently the center of the Newroad, second was in Indra chowk, and third was in Ason tole. Om Krishan Shrestha says in "1966 his father Ram Krishan Shrestha with his partner Chayta Narayan Manandhar started mass production of momocha in front of Ranjana hall". Momocha became the fast food of young Newars. Many momocha street vendors and workers left the kitchen and opened their own momocha joint. This changed momo establishments in Kathmandu; it became so famous that other caste young people started sneaking into the momocha joints. From a popular food amongst the Newar community, momocha has broken all the communal barriers. It is for everyone to enjoy and is on the verge of becoming a National dish. Momocha is not just another food, it is a new wave of food culture that's rapidly growing. A staple for millions of Momo lovers, in Nepal and India. Momocha houses are sprouting all over, from the Toles of Kathmandu to Gulleys of Dehli. Like momochas journey from the royal kitchen to a street food king, we all have some great memories and few unforgettable stories of eating this delicious pillow of happiness.