For as long as I can remember, the last week of the year always meant holidays- waking up late without the alarm bell ringing, lazing around, reflecting on the year gone by and gorging on good food. Over the years the circumstances may have changed but what remained constant is food being part of all the year end celebrations.
‘Momos’ as they are popularly known in India/ Nepal, are these juicy succulent meat fillings wrapped in a thin moist crescent-shaped wrap resembling a dumpling.
I still remember the first time I had momos/ dumplings, I was probably 11 or 12 and quite intrigued but also repulsed by the idea of chomping down a weird looking dough ball that was steamed and not fried. But one bite and god was I hooked! What the neighbourhood street shack sold was more of an onion momo than chicken, which I later realised as I grew up 😀 Nevertheless, I was totally in love.
Since then I have come a long way and have had my share of lip-smacking dumplings from amazing joints in Calcutta, the hills of Darjeeling, Nepal and Bhutan. Nothing is as comforting as freshly steamed momos dipped in spicy chili oil with a bowl of steaming hot clear soup. Nomnomnom….
The Nepalese ones remain my favourite because of their simplicity and use of fresh ingredients. On monsoon afternoons or on cold winter nights like now in Toronto, when my heart cries out for something piping hot, I can only think of momos.
These are so delicate and bursting with flavour, that you would find it difficult to stop as the juices ooze out with every bite 🙂
Ingredients (15-16 medium sized momos):
14 large prawns deveined & shell removed, finely chopped (not minced)
3 tbsp finely chopped coriander
3 tbsp finely chopped green onion/ spring onion
2 tbsp finely chopped red onion
2 finely chopped green chilies
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 heaped tbsp butter
Salt & pepper to taste
2 cups all purpose flour/ maida
1/2 tsp salt
Water to knead soft dough
For Chili Oil:
[The stunning chili oil recipe is by one of my favourite food bloggers Nambie. You can find this and more of her delicious recipes on YouTube under Eat Your Kappa]
3 tsp Chili flakes
3 tsp chilli powder/ paprika
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
1 cup olive oil (or any unflavoured oil)
3 large roughly chopped ginger pieces (about 1 inch each)
1 roughly chopped onion
Few sprigs of coriander leaves
2 roughly chopped spring onions
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp sichuan pepper
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp aniseed or fennel
1 large cinnamon
Salt & sugar to taste
For prawn broth:
2 tbsp oil
1/2 roughly chopped onion
2-3 large ginger chunks
1 fat garlic clove minced
1 roughly chopped carrot
1 tsp whole peppercorn
1 bay leaf
Prawn shells (of the 15 prawns)
1 chicken bullion
3 cups water
Salt & pepper to taste
Start with the broth. Heat a deep bottomed pot with oil and add the bay leaf and peppercorns. Throw in the onion, ginger, minced garlic and carrots. Sauté for a while until fragrant. Now add the prawn shells and stir fry again until they release all the juices. Add 3 cups of water and a chicken bullion and let it simmer on low heat, uncovered and come to a boil. Keep removing the scum from time to time to keep the broth clear. Add salt and pepper and continue to simmer. In about 1-1.5 hours, the broth will be ready. Strain and serve in soup bowls, garnished with chopped green onions.
Mix the chopped prawn with all the ingredients listed under ‘stuffing’ in a bowl and keep it marinated for at least 30 minutes.
Mix the flour with salt and start kneading the dough by pouring water little at a time to ensure a soft dough. Keep it wrapped in a plastic for 15 mins.
While we wait for the prawns and the dough ready to be used, let’s make the chili oil. In a bowl, add the chili flakes, chili powder, sesame seeds, salt and sugar and mix well.
Now heat a cup of oil in a wok until smoking hot and throw in roughly chopped veggies, bay leaves, sichuan pepper, fennel seeds, cinnamon and star anise. Let them fry well on medium heat. Once the veggies have browned and the spices cooked, strain the oil. Add the hot oil in the dry ingredients bowl and mix everything well with a spoon. Finally add some vinegar and viola! Your chili oil is ready.
This is such a life changing recipe by Nambie and you can store this oil for a couple of months.
Time to make the momos/ dumplings!
Divide the dough into equal 15-16 portions and roll out very thinly. The wraps should be more thicker on the center but thinner on the outside. Take one wrap and place some prawn mix in the center with a spoon. To seal the momos securely, tap the edges of the wrap with some water on your finger. Start folding and pleating the wrap into your desired dumpling shape.
Line the momos in a bamboo steamer basket or on a steel stand in a deep bottom pan and steam for 15 minutes. You can even make them in your instant pot like I did. I placed a steel steamer basket inside the instant pot and used the steam function for 8 minutes to get the perfect dumplings.
Serve them hot with the chili oil and a side of prawn clear broth.
Eat and get lost in the winding roads of the misty hills :))