Vegetarian Momos! …and Remembering Darjeeling

While on our trip to India, Piyush and I met tons of incredible people, visited many spectacular places and tried many different foods (well…different to me!).  I didn’t really think too much about it while I was there, but now that I’m back home in the states…I can’t get Darjeeling out of my head!

Darjeeling is a beautiful town located in the foothills of the Himalayas, very close to both Nepal and Tibet.  It’s a major tourist destination, and like most everywhere in India…it’s crowded!

A street in Darjeeling

Tibetian Monks in Darjeeling

One of many Darjeeling Tea Estates

Darjeeling is also quite famous for the fabulous tea grown all along the hills…and for the momos!

I only ate momos twice while we were on our little holiday, but gosh, they were so good that I wish I would have had them every day!  Oh, the things I take for granted…

Have you ever heard of momos?  No?  Probably not.  I know I hadn’t before our trip.  I don’t know if there are many places in the states where you can find sub-par momos— let alone the authentic, delicious momos.  The closest you might get is a potsticker or dim sum, which although very similar, are not momos.

So what exactly is a momo?

It’s quite simple, really.  A momo is basically a dumpling made with a flour/water based dough.  They are native to Nepal and Tibet, and are very popular in the North-Eastern part of India.  Inside the dough is a mixture of veggies, meats (optional) and aromatics. They can be steamed, fried and even boiled in soups.  It’s amazing how something so basic can be so versatile, so tasty…and so addicting!  After doing a little searching online, I found a couple recipes that looked promising.  I took a few things from each recipe and came up with something that tasted almost exactly like I remembered.

In fact…they turned out so good, Piyush ate 8 of them in less than 10 minutes—and then he licked the plate!

The only piece of criticism he gave me was that I made my momos larger than I should have. Mind you, there is nothing wrong with making them large, the taste is the same; but they’re meant to be more “bite-sized” than “hockey-puck-sized.”

formed momo, before steaming

My recipe will make approximately 30 large momos—you could probably get 45 or 50 if you make them a little smaller.  Out of curiousity I plugged my final recipe into a calorie calculator, and guess what?!  Each large sized momo is around 85 calories!!!  Awesome!!!

The dough is easy to make.

  • 3 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tbsp. baking powder
  • water —enough to make an even, stiff dough.

Pour the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl.  Add 1 cup of water to begin.  Don’t use a spoon to mix, use your hands!  Knead the dough, adding flour and water as necessary.  I probably ended up using 3 1/5 c. flour and around 1 1/2 cups water—-but this will vary!

Cover the dough and let it rest for around 30 min. (I managed to wait 20.  Patience is not something I possess…)

While the dough rests, make the filling.

  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 3 cups cabbage– finely shredded (I bought it in a bag, pre-shredded.  I hate shredding cabbage!  Hate it!)
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, smashed and minced
  • 1 giant potato (or 2 medium)—made into around a cup of mashed potato
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Kalaunji seeds (substitute cumin seeds, mustard seeds, or leave out all together)
  • 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Mix the onion, cabbage, carrot, ginger, cilantro, salt and mashed potato in a bowl.  Stir it until everything is combined.  Heat the olive oil on the stove-top and pour the kalaunji seeds in and once they start to pop, dump all the oil/seeds in the veggie mixture.  Stir everything until mixed together, and set aside.
Next, take the dough and pinch off little balls—about 1 tbsp.  Roll the balls out into a some-what circular shape.

Roll the dough out (make them smaller if you're making bite-sized momos)

Pick the dough up in your left hand and plop a good heaping tablespoon of filling in the center.

Next, start crimping the edges and form the momo into  a circular shape.

crimp and pinch the dough around the filling

Ready to be steamed!

***Make sure you keep a damp towel over the momos and the dough as you’re forming them.  You don’t want the dough to dry out. ***

Once you get the momos all formed, you can either steam them right away or you can freeze them.  I froze all of mine because I wasn’t sure when Piyush would be home to eat them.  I placed them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, popped them in the freezer and let them stay there a couple hours.  Once they were fully frozen I put them into a giant ziplock bag, and back in the freezer.

When you’re ready to steam them:

Put water in a steamer pot and bring to a boil.  Place the steaming basket(s) in the pot.  If the water touches the basket, pour a little out.

Once the basket is in the pot, spray it with a little cooking oil (I used my misto)—you don’t want the momos to stick!  Work in batches, and place momos in the basket in a single layer so they don’t quite touch.

Set the timer for 15 minutes and don’t take the lid off the pot until it buzzes.  Resist the temptation.  Once the timer goes off, take them out of the steamer and serve with some soy dipping sauce, chile sauce, or tomato chutney!

Enjoy a little bit of Darjeeling, half a world away!

Have you ever visited some place that was so amazing, it left you wishing you could go back?  I have heard quite a few people who have been to Darjeeling say that they would love to retire there.  I can totally understand!

Enjoy a couple more photos!

Baba enjoying some Darjeeling tea


27 thoughts on “Vegetarian Momos! …and Remembering Darjeeling

  1. Lannie

    such an interesting filling! ‘momo’, or as we call in mainland, “baozi’ is a childhood favorite. this salad like chopped filling sounds light and new and something i’ll have to try!

    1. Shari Post author

      baozi is a little different, I think? Don’t you use yeast in the dough for those? They look just as scrumptious!!!

  2. Lynne

    I made these last night and they ended up being dinner, which is great since I am vegan and my husband is not. Excellent, healthy, filling recipe! Made a dip of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and chili oil. Thanks for sharing!

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  4. Allison

    I love momos! I’ve had some with chicken, but my favorites are at a Nepali restaurant I like in Madison, WI (called Himal Chuli) that are stuffed mostly with peanut and cilantro. If you like peanuts, you should give that a try!

      1. Allison

        Yes, you should; it would be totally worth it! I live in California now but I’m from Madison, and if I only have time to go to one restaurant whenever I’m back in town, then Himal Chuli (downtown on State St.) is the one. If I have time to go to two or more restaurants then that’s a much tougher decision…

        (& I’ve never been to Rochester, but I saw that you were from the Midwest too, which is why I mentioned that I’d tried the veggie peanut momos in Madison 🙂 )

      2. Shari Post author

        Thanks for mentioning! …do you know if the place is owned and ran by a Nepali too? ((looking Himal Chuli up on urbanspoon…))

      3. Allison

        Hm… not sure, but I assume so. There are actually quite a few Nepali restaurants in Madison. And I know that the owners of Himal Chuli also own a second (fancier) Nepali restaurant, just several doors down, called Chautara.

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  6. Mark

    I just found your site and I’m really looking forward to trying some of your recipes. I discovered momos at the Beautiful Days music festival here in England, and absolutely loved them. I’ll certainly have a go at making my own in the next day or two.

    Birmingham, where I’m from, is famous for it’s Indian restaurants and is where the Balti was invented.

    1. Shari Post author

      Hello, Mark! Welcome to My Fancy Pantry! I’m so glad you stumbled across my momo recipe. If you give it a try, let me know what you think! I’ve heard about the delicious restaurants in England…someday I will make it over there to see for myself! 😉

    1. Shari Post author

      The momos are so easy, and so delicious! You can definitely make them at home! If you give them a go, let me know how it turns out!

  7. Kanchan

    I’m from Nepal and make momos on a regular basis. So glad to stumble upon people that like it and enjoy making it. Making your own dough is alot of work though. I buy mine at an asian store, it’s usually frozen and you just leave in on the counter at a room temperature for few hours to thaw it out. Saves you a lot of time!!!


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