Momos made the local Nepali way
Is there a difference between local momos and momos made for tourists? Yes, quite a big one too! Hence when I first wrote about what’s the food like in Nepal I mentioned about giving examples between different versions of the same dish. Be it local food, tourist food or even trekking food.
In this case its local momos compared to what I wrote here about momos made for tourists. As you can see there’s quite a big difference. Let’s move on to some taste testing of local momos and a comparison.
What’s a local Nepalese momo?
A momo is a Nepalese steamed dumpling. Made with a flour casing a local momo is usually buff (buffalo) or chicken filled along with some veg or potato. Momos often come with a small side dish which contains a dip – though not all local momos come with this.
Though available vegetarian locally made momos are harder to come by. I have however seen and eaten some locally made yak cheese momos along the Annapurna Circuit.
What’s the difference between a tourist momo and a local momo?
Well as you can see they look a little different. Tourist momos are usually made into little crescent shapes while local momos are in round little parcels. The flour is a different color too. Tourist momos are slightly yellow while local momo pastry is near pure white.
The meat parcel inside is quite different too. A local momo is a lot heavier than a tourist momo. In the case of a buff momo I found the filling to be a serious meal. It’s also very high in oil. My plate below when finished had a pool of grease at the bottom. Tourist momos are a lot lighter.
Serving momos the local way
The photographs of local momos here feature a mother and son in Bhaktapur which is an ancient Newari town to the east of Kathmandu. In the evenings the side streets that frame heavy wooden doors see them swing open to reveal local kitchens serving food. It’s the kind of place I enjoy visiting.
Seeing a huge metal steamer outside one of these little roadside eateries I thought the idea of eating fresh momos was a great temptation. The lady outside finished adding some new momos to her steamer before welcoming me inside the tiny little momo cafe.
In a local momo cafe eating local momos
The seats were hard flat benches and the tables took on a similar basic approach. It was quite dark as my little bowl of eight steaming momos were put down in front of me. They were buff momos. No choice. Only buff on the menu so buff it was.
No little dipping sauce either. Instead I was offered a plastic ketchup bottle filled with a thick dark paste which evidently had a powerful chili infusion. Not so nice.
But then the lady’s son came over with a large plastic jug of watery masala like sauce as an alternative. Unfortunately it was not much better so I stuck with plain.
The momos didn’t need much help though. Compared to touristy momos these were very heavy. The meat inside was also thick and heavy with the taste of buffalo meat. Moreover there was that huge amount of oil oozing out from these little steamed dumplings. No wonder they were filling.
Watching the momo take-away service
I finally force-fed myself the last momo as the gathering crowd smiled on in appreciation of my double thumbs up at their local staple. Then after the mandatory photos of select members I went back outside.
The young boy was filling up a large metal take-away plate. His job for the evening was to deliver momos around the neighboring streets.
Which is better, a plate of local momos or tourist momos?
I’m going to be very honest here and say that tourist momos are better. Local momos are simply too oily for me. I had several millimeters of oil left in my dish and needed no dinner later that night.
Tourist momos are much lighter and just that little bit more flavorsome. Though many do skimp on the meat.
There’s a reason for this though. Local momos are made for local people. Generally speaking people in Nepal need to eat something that’s very filling. The local momo is a much better choice in this case. And indeed if I was on a trek and had the choice between a dish of tourist momos or local momos I would choose the local momos.
Better yet would be a dish of homemade Nepalese momos!
This is an additional article highlighting food from Nepal
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