The Proven Platter—Nepal, November 2021
Momos are quintessentially Nepalese. These flavor-packed, bite-sized dumplings are so popular that they are sold by street food vendors and also feature prominently on menus of upscale restaurants in Nepal. Eaten as a snack, an appetizer, or made a complete meal of along with soup, momos are versatile. Traditionally, momos, like their cousin the gyoza, are steamed and consist of a flour-based wrapper with a minced meat filling that is spiced with aromatics. Chicken, goat, and buffalo meat are most commonly used fillings, however, modern takes on this traditional favorite also use vegetables, greens, and occasionally cheese.
This recipe is a more traditional take using chicken and aromatics as the filling. While ground chicken can be used, I find ground chicken to have a texture and consistency that is too fine and a little too, shall we say, mystery meat-ish. So, I got boneless, skinless thighs (trimmed of fat) and then minced them with my chef’s knife. Feel free to use ground chicken if it is more convenient.
While the momo is the star, the momo chutney is ketchup to a French fry. Momos are always eaten dunked (not just dipped) in the spicy momo chutney. In this recipe I’ve reduced the number of red chilies that typically go into making the chutney spicy. The tomato chutney we’d be making retains some heat allowing it to lay claim to a spicy tomato chutney, but it won’t make your eyes water. Add more chilies if you are feeling adventurous. The almonds in the chutney act as a thickening agent and also add some complexity to the flavor. Cashews can be substituted for almonds. If you chose to omit the nuts, you might want to reduce the chutney to keep it from being too runny. Momos are usually eaten hot, so you can make them ahead and steam them just before you are ready to serve them.
Chicken Momos and Spicy Tomato Chutney
For the dumpling wrapper
All purpose flour – 2 cups
Salt – 2 tsp
Water – warm, ½ cup
For the dumpling filling
Chicken thighs, boneless, skinless – finely diced, 1.5 lbs
Red onion – finely diced, ½ cup
Scallions, green parts only – finely chopped, ½ cup
Ginger – grated, 1 tbsp
Garlic – grated, 1 tbsp
Cilantro – finely chopped, 2 tbsp
Cumin – 2 tbsp
Salt – 2 tsp
Olive oil—2 tbsp
For the spicy tomato chutney
Tomatoes – 2
Red chilli peppers – 2
Garlic cloves – 2
Almonds – 6
Vinegar – 1 tsp
Sugar – ½ tsp
Salt – 1
Mixing bowl (2)
Medium sized pot
Prepare the dough
- Sift and add the all-purpose flour to a mixing bowl.
- Add salt and stir to mix.
- Make a well in the center and add the warm water in a stream and incorporate it into the flour forming a dough.
- Knead the dough and form it into a ball. If it is dry and crumbly, add a little more water but be careful not to add too much, else it might get sticky.
- Cover the bowl and set the dough aside for at least 30 minutes.
Make the filling
- While the dough rests, in a mixing bowl, add the chicken, onion, scallions, ginger, garlic, cumin and salt and mix well to combine.
- Set the bowl aside in the refrigerator.
Spicy Tomato Chutney
- Once the filling is in the refrigerator, set a pot of water to boil
- When the water comes to a boil add the tomatoes, chilies, and garlic cloves
- Blanch the tomatoes, chilies, and garlic cloves for 10 – 15 minutes
- Strain and let cool
- When cool, add the blanched tomatoes, chilies, and garlic cloves to a blender and blend on high speed.
- Add the almonds, salt, and sugar and blend again.
- Then drizzle in the vinegar and blend till the chutney is smooth.
- Transfer chutney to a bowl.
Assemble the momos
- Lightly flour your working surface and split the dough into quarter sized balls
- Using a rolling pin, roll out each ball into little circles no bigger than your palm. Ideally the edges should be thinner
- Place about 1 tbsp of the chicken filling in the center of the circle and pleat the edges and pinch to form a purse (or just fold to form moon-shaped little pies and pinch the edge)
- Repeat with all the dough (or as many as you’d like to make).
- Lightly oil the steamer tray and place the momos a few inches apart
- Steam cook for 12—15 minutes
- Momos are ready when the dough is cooked and slightly translucent
Enjoy your Momos hot with the spicy tomato chutney!
Recipe and photo credit: Vinola V. Munyon