Friday, December 20, 2013

Recipe of the month: Vegetable Momos

I've been meaning to make Momos at home for quite a while now but I had put my plans on the back burner. When my parents were here sometime ago, we happened to go shopping one evening and I got my hands on a super cheap $10 bamboo steamer that reignited the Momo-making fire in me and subsequently culminated in this blog post 😊

Momos are a type of dumpling native to Nepal but also popular in the bordering regions of Tibet, Bhutan, and Northeast India. The term Momo is also used interchangeably with Dim Sum which are of Chinese origin but the two are not the same.

Dim Sum is savoury or sometimes even sweet and is typically served along with Chinese tea. This incredibly popular Chinese delicacy is not restricted to the steamed variety of dumplings and buns but also spring rolls, open-faced dumplings like Shui Mai, potstickers or the pan-fried dumplings among others come under the broad dim sum umbrella. Dim Sum can also be made with any kind of flour - be it rice, or wheat, or even potato starch. Dim Sum are considered the more sauve dumplings and eating them at restaurants often translates into a fine-dining experience.

Momos are slightly thicker dumplings compared to traditional Chinese Dim Sum and usually plumper. Unlike the chilli oils, soy-based or vinegar-based thin dipping sauces, the sauce that accompanies the Momos is thicker and is fondly referred to as Momo chutney. Momos are far more rustic, homely and have become synonymous with street food.

My first rendezvous with Momos was probably 4-5 years ago while I was pursuing a Masters degree at the National University of Singapore. I had a Nepali friend during that time who introduced me to these shiny little dumplings. During those days, we used to frequent Nepali restaurants like Shish Mahal and Kantipur where Momos would invariably feature in our order. Apart from Momos, another dish that I would order without fail was the Nepalese nine-bean soup called Kwati which I love! Momos on the other hand, I do like but it isn't one of my favourite appetizers. But having said that, I find them intriguing because they look super fancy (with those pleats and all), and they weren't familiar to me growing up.

Momos are quite versatile - they are usually filled with meat but vegetarian versions are also popular. There are different folding techniques as well such as the half moon or dumpling style. They are traditionally steamed but fried versions do exist as well - I definitely prefer the former! (it isn't often that I declare my preference for something steamed over deep-fried! 😛 ).

The very first time I attempted making Momos, they didn't turn out exactly how I envisioned but I was quite satisfied with the outcome. I have made them several times since then and experimented with different techniques of folding them (with varying degrees of success may I add!). I do enjoy the process of making Momos at home even though it is time consuming. Judging by the technique and execution, they still may not be perfect but the flavour is always bang on and my family loves my take on this dish. With Momos, practice makes perfect so here's hoping I get better and better!

So here is the recipe. Please don't be intimidated by these dumplings. They may look slightly complicated but in reality, they are not very difficult to make. It just takes some time and patience and I can assure you that you will feel quite pleased with yourself once you are done making them!

Vegetable Momos 

Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook time: 8-10 mins per batch
Makes: 24 Momos
Serves: 6
Recipe category: Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, India/Appetizer or Main Course
Recipe level: Intermediate
Recipe source: Adapted from various websites


For the outer covering:
3 cups all purpose flour
1-1.5 cups water (use as required)
1.5 tsp salt
2 tbsp oil

For the vegetable stuffing:
3 cups cabbage, finely shredded
2 cups carrot, finely chopped
4-5 babycorns, finely chopped
100gm button mushrooms, finely chopped
1 cup red onion, finely chopped (*refer notes)
6-8 garlic pods, minced
1-inch piece ginger, minced
1-2 small red or green bird’s eye chilli, finely chopped, adjust according to spice level 
1 cup spring onion greens, chopped
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp white pepper powder
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp white vinegar
Salt to taste
3 tbsp vegetable oil


1. Mix flour, salt and oil  in a bowl and add water little by little to make a smooth and pliable dough (similar to poori dough). Wrap in cling wrap and keep in fridge until you prepare the filling.

2. Heat a pan with oil, add minced garlic, ginger and chopped chilli and fry on high heat for a minute. Add in the chopped red onions and fry till translucent. Add the chopped carrot and babycorn and fry for 2 min. Next add the chopped cabbage, mushroom, salt (add carefully because you will be adding soy sauce later) and sugar and fry for few minutes on high flame until the vegetables are tender yet still crisp. Make sure all the moisture has evaporated and the mixture is dry. 

3. Add white pepper powder, light soy sauce, vinegar and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings if required. Switch off the flame and add in the chopped spring onion greens and mix.

4. Keep aside to cool completely.

5. Divide the dough into 24 balls and roll out each ball into a uniform circle. The circle should not be too thick or even too thin that you could see through it. You can use a sharp rimmed lid or dessert ring to get a perfect circle. Add 2 tbsp of the filling in the centre. 

6. Fold it to make Momo shapes and pinch the top. You can refer videos on youtube that offer simple tutorials on folding Momos. I have shown you a few types here (although I am far from being an expert!). You can click here for a useful resource on folding techniques that I follow.

I find the first one the easiest and it is my most favourite.

7. Line the bamboo steamer (or whatever steamer you are using) with lettuce leaves or cabbage leaves or parchment paper with a few holes. Alternatively, you can grease it well. Place the bamboo steamer over a pot of boiling water and steam the Momos (spaced properly so they are not touching) for 8-10 min. I steamed them 4-5 at a time in several batches. Keep in mind that when they are done, they look shiny & translucent.

8. Serve steaming hot with chilli sauce. We sometimes make a tomato-red chilli-garlic sauce at home and other times settle for store-bought. If it is available where you live, I highly recommend ABC chilli sambal sauce which is one of our favourite commercially available sauces 😊

  • Instead of using red onion in this recipe, you could use the whites of the spring onions. I used red onions because the spring onions that I get here don't typically have much of the white onion bulbs
  • You can consider using french beans, radish, bell peppers, mushrooms, bean sprouts and tofu in the filling for this vegetarian version as well
  • If like me, you are using a bamboo steamer, you can line it with the following: leaves from cabbage and lettuce, corn husks or squares of cheese cloth, parchment paper or aluminium foil. This is to prevent the Momos sticking to the bottom 
  • Spacing the Momos slightly apart as they steam is important otherwise they may stick to each other and tear
  • You can also steam the Momos in a rice cooker, pressure cooker (without the weight) or idli steamer. With the pressure cooker and idli steamer, use a preferably perforated lightly greased stand to place the Momos on
  • You have to eat the Momos immediately while they are still hot because in my opinion, they don't taste as nice once they go cold



  1. They look really yum Megha. I haven;t tried making them at home but recipe is sure tempting me too :-)

  2. They look delicious Megha! I have always wanted to try momos but was intimidated by the recipe.. plus I didn't have a steamer. Should try this one :)

  3. This look so delicious! I’d like to try this recipe, but I don’t have a steamer.


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