Momo (food)

Momo are bite-size dumplings made with a spoonful of stuffing wrapped in dough with origins from Tibet. Momo are usually steamed, though they are sometimes fried or steam-fried. Meat or vegetables fillings becomes succulent as it produces an intensively flavored broth sealed inside the wrappers. Variants first developed in Tibet, after it became popular among Asians. [1][2] Eating dumplings on the first day of the new year was a widely spread custom in northern China. Written records show that dumplings became popular during the Southern and Northern dynasties (420–589 AD), the earliest unearthed real dumplings were found in Astana Cemetery dated between 499 AD and 640 AD.[3] [4]

A typical serving of a plate of momo with sesame yellow sauce and red ginger chilli pickle.
Alternative namesमम, མོག་མོག
Place of originTibet
Associated cuisineTibetan cuisine, Nepali cuisine, additionally Indian cuisine
Main ingredientsWhite-flour-and-water dough; meat, vegetable
VariationsSteam-momo, Kothey momo, Jhol momo, C-momo, Fry-momo, Open-momo, fried momo, chicken-momo, veg-momo, buff-momo, cheese-momo, khuwa-momo, chocolate-momo
Food energy
(per serving)
350 to 1000 (35 to 100 per piece) kcal
Similar dishesjiaozi, guotie, xiaolongbao, baozi, mantou, buuz, gyoza, mandu, manti


Momo is the colloquial form of the Tibetan word "mog mog".[5] It is possible that this Tibetan word is borrowed from the Chinese term momo (馍馍), a name traditionally used in northwestern Chinese dialects for bread.[6] The word mo (馍) itself means food related to flour.[7] As can be seen in dishes from Shaanxi cuisine like roujiamo and paomo. It could also be possible that it derived from Nepal Bhasa word mome (मम) which means cooking by steaming. The history of momo in Nepal dates back to as early as the fourteenth century. [8]

As for the Himalayan momo, it is not quite known whether it spread from the Kathmandu valley of Nepal to Tibet or the other way around. This dish was initially popular among the Newar community of the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, one prevalent belief is that traveling Nepali Newar merchants took the recipe of momo from Tibet where the Nepali Newar Merchants used to go to trade and brought it back home to Nepal.[9] Some argue that momo was introduced in Tibet by a Nepalese Newari princess who was married to a Tibetan king in the late fifteenth century, since in Newari, one of Nepal’s oldest languages, ‘mome’ means cooking by steaming.[10] In Tibet, the filling of the dish was typically meat, such as yak and occasionally potatoes and cheese. Traditional Tibetan momo is quite different from the Nepalese one as the former was made with a thicker dough and with little to no spices except salt. However, after arriving in the Indo-Gangetic Plains, the meat became chicken, and mixed vegetables momo was introduced to feed the large population of vegetarian Hindus.[11] Unproven, but substantiated by the dates and references to momo in colloquial references, the civil war in Nepal pushed out the Nepali diaspora to seek a livelihood in India, which further increased to the prevalence of Himalayan style momo in the southern parts of India, especially in the cities of Chennai and Bangalore.


Momo are common in Gilgit region in Ladakh

Momo is a type of steamed dumpling with some form of filling, most commonly chicken (traditionally yak, but often chicken and goat) and it is originally from Nepal. Momo has become a delicacy in Nepal and Tibetan communities in Bhutan, as well as people of the Nepal regions of Darjeeling, Ladakh, Sikkim, Assam, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh. In Pakistan, Gilgit-Baltistan region it is known as mamtoo.


A plate of momo from Nepal
A Tibetan woman making momo in Washington, D.C., United States

A simple white-flour-and-water dough is generally preferred to make the outer momo covering. Sometimes, a little yeast or baking soda is added to give a more doughy texture to the finished product.

Traditionally, momo is prepared with ground/minced meat, potatoes, and leek filling. Nowadays, the fillings have become more elaborate and Momo is prepared with virtually any combination of ground meat, vegetables, tofu, mushrooms, paneer cheese, soft chhurpi (local hard cheese) and vegetable and meat combinations.

The dough is rolled into small circular flat pieces. The filling is enclosed in the circular dough cover either in a round pocket or a half-moon or crescent shape. People prefer meat with a lot of fat because it produces flavourful, juicy momos. A little oil is sometimes added to the lean ground/minced meat to keep the filling moist and juicy. The dumplings are then cooked by steaming over a soup (either a stock based on bones or vegetables) in a momo-making utensil called mucktoo. Momos may also be pan-fried or deep-fried after being steamed.


Momo are traditionally steamed but can also be deep-fried or pan-fried and cooked in soup. Momo is usually served with chilli garlic sauce and pickled daikon in Tibet. In Nepal, popular dipping sauces include tomato-based chutneys or sesame or peanut or soybean-based sauces called Jhol achar. Sauces can be thick or thin in consistency depending on the eatery (locally called achār[13]), usually made with tomato or peanut, sesame and soybean as the base ingredient. In Kathmandu valley, the traditional way of serving momo (called momochā or local momo) is ten ping-pong ball-sized round momo drowned in a sauce called jhol achar, infused with Timur pepper (Nepali pepper, a variety of Sichuan pepper). Jhol momo has warm or hot tomato-based broth poured over momo (not cooked in the broth[14]), whereas Jhol achhar is served in-room /cooled temperature. One of the main ingredients of jhol achar is Nepali hog plum (lapsi), but if this is unavailable, lemon or lime juice may be used.

Soup momo or mok-thuk (Tibetan) is another way to serve momos which usually involve using smaller shaped dumplings, where the momos are either cooked in broth for a type of dumpling soup or steamed momos, which are added to the broth. Pan-fried momo is also known as kothey momo. Steamed momo served in hot sauce is called C-momo. There are also a variety of dumplings of Nepal found in the Nepal state of Sikkim and Darjeeling district, including Tingmo and Tiebao.

See also


  1. they probably originated from the Chinese jiaozi
  2. "Momo combinations is Nepal's growing obsession - the Statesman". The Statesman.
  3. Chen, T.; Wu, Y.; Zhang, Y.; Wang, B.; Hu, Y.; Wang, C.; Jiang, H. (2012). "Archaeobotanical Study of Ancient Food and Cereal Remains at the Astana Cemeteries, Xinjiang, China". PLOS ONE. 7 (9): e45137. Bibcode:2012PLoSO...745137C. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045137. PMC 3447823. PMID 23028807.
  4. "新疆出土现时我国最早的饺子_藏趣逸闻_新浪收藏_新浪网".
  5. Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae. Akadémiai Kiadó. 1955. p. 209.
  6. "馍馍的做法_馍馍怎么做_菜谱_美食天下".
  7. 面制食品 food related to flour
  8. "The history of MOMO (The king of fast food-Dumpling)".
  9. Sijapati, Alisha (September 17, 2016). "A Juicy Love Affair". The Kathmandu Post. Retrieved September 22, 2016.
  10. "The history of MOMO (The king of fast food-Dumpling)".
  11. Seow, Lynelle (15 January 2017). CultureShock! Nepal. Marshall Cavendish International Asia Pte Ltd. pp. 202–. ISBN 978-981-4771-98-6.
  12. "Momo recipe". Archived from the original on December 1, 2008. Retrieved April 6, 2011.
  13. Williams, James. "Momos Chutney Recipe".
  14. "Anup's Kitchen | Traditional recipes, without shortcuts". Retrieved 2021-09-26.
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