Momos: Love at First Bite
Cooking in Arunachal Pradesh is decidedly different than on “mainland” India. Recipes here rarely call for flame-hued chillies, glowing yellow tumeric powder, brick-red mustard seeds or other dried spices. Rather, fresh organic herbs, leaves and tubers are used to add color and aroma to the cornucopia of curries, soups, dals, pickles and chutneys found across the state. Moreover, food is often steamed so nutrients are sealed in and flavors linger pleasantly on the palate.
One dish native to western Arunachal Pradesh which has made it onto the menus of restaurants around the world is the momo – a crescent-shaped dumpling prepared with a variety of fillings, daintily pleated, steamed and served with dipping sauce.
Several switchbacks up from Dirang on the road to Tawang, one can sample these mouthwatering morsels at a roadside eatery appropriately called The Vegetable Momo and Chow-Chow Noodle Hut. Lucky visitors enter through the double-Dutch door at the side which leads directly into the tiny, adorable kitchen where there is seating for two on low stools near the fireplace. The potato momos served here are guaranteed to be love at first bite!
If you want to try making your own momos, the technique is surprisingly easy. Chalo – give it a try:
PRAWN MOMOS (makes 20)
Dough for wrappers:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon oil
Water as required
Pinch of salt
500g small prawns, cleaned and deveined
3 small white onions, finely chopped
4 medium button mushrooms, finely chopped
1/2 bushel spring onion, white and green parts, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 tablespoon seafood masala (Thai fish sauce also works)
3 tablespoons cooking oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Make the momo stuffing. Combine all filling ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the ingredients to properly marinate.
Make the dough. In a large bowl combine flour, oil and salt and add water a bit at a time. Knead the dough very thoroughly, about 10 minutes till soft and elastic. Cover and let stand for at least 15 minutes. Knead well again before making wrappers.
Prepare 2 cm diameter dough balls. Roll each one between palms till round. Lightly dust work surface with dry flour and gently flatten first ball with fingertips. Roll out into 9 cm diameter wrapper. Repeat with the remaining dough balls.
Pack the wrappers. On a lightly dusted work board, place wrapper flat and put one heaping teaspoon of filling mixture in the middle. Pleat and press the two edges of the dumpling together – practice makes perfect.
Heat up idli/momo steamer. Oil the rack to prevent dumplings from sticking. Arrange momos on the rack leaving a small space between them. Close the lid and steam until cooked through, about 12 minutes.
Remove momos and serve immediately with sauce of your choice. Chalo… Enjoy!