A popular street snack in Delhi, momos or dumplings are now being experimented with in fancy kitchens as well as the street kiosks, where chefs are stuffing them with ingredients such as coconut, vodka, chocolate, and even chaat!
The tangy flavour of Gujarati sriracha sauce and chilli paste gradually mingles with the fried noodles that have been topped over the dumplings. Garnished with sesame seeds and aesthetically cut onions, tomato, and capsicum, this dish of momos has an Indian twist to it.
It is a plate of momo chaat- another Indian street snack that has been fused into the little dumplings.
Fusion momos are all the rage in Delhi, the Indian capital city that is generally big on the food scene and is popular for its street food.
Innovative flavours of momos, originally a Tibetan dish and since a long time now a popular street food in Delhi, have taken over menus in chic cafes across the city.
Traditionally made from flour, stuffed with ground meat and/or veggies, and savoured with chutney (sauce), dumplings, over time, have undergone a culinary spin.
They are now available in steamed, fried or tandoori (baked in a clay oven called tandoor) versions with a wide array of flavours ranging from traditional vegetables and/or meat minced with spices to offbeat fillings like potato, cheese, coconut, or even chocolate. Even the chutney (sauce) with which these dumplings are traditionally served, has now a curly tale of its own.
According to the owner of Rosang, an eatery in south Delhi, “Momos represent new trends in food in metros; and along with snacks from other parts of India show that people are becoming more inclusive about varied food and culture.”
Girish Rawat, a chef in Odeon Social, opines, “People in Delhi are bored of the plain traditional servings. Customers now demand innovative food. Hence, we keep experimenting with recipes. For dumpling, the basics remain the same and we usually experiment with the gravy and sauces for reinventing the Tibetan delicacy.”
Aryan Raj from Hunger Strike, an eatery, shares, “Every palate prefers a different flavour. Keeping into consideration the diverse demand, we keep experimenting with the flavours, and use cashew, curd or cream while preparing our gravy momos.”
A new favourite street food
Setting up a momos kiosk is, in fact, the new business idea, which is attracting many entrepreneurs.
Dolma Aunty Momos, a very famous momos kiosk is Delhi, is one such example. The stall, which stands pretty in the Lajpat Nagar market of South Delhi, attracts thousands of visitors from across the capital and has enjoyed a lot of social media presence in the past. Dumplings from are, often, sold in bulk to hawkers across Delhi, who then steam them in large containers at their stalls and sell them at pocket-friendly prices.
“Earlier it wasn’t so famous. The kiosk was restricted only to the Lajpat Nagar market, however, now its outlets can be found all over Delhi. They shot to fame a few years ago, thanks to social media and the taste of their two iconic chutneys, chilli and garlic flavoured, which haven’t changed a bit over these years. Earlier they used to serve only plain vegetarian and chicken momos, now they serve paneer too,” says Simran Kaur, a locale.
Virendar Singh from Me n Tandoori Momos, another famous momos kiosk in South Delhi, says, “Our sales have observed a significant rise in the past five years. We started the momos business, way back, but the kind of response that we are getting now is much more.”
The craze of momos is particularly notable amongst the students.
“I cannot imagine college life without momos. The momos stalls in the university area are always surrounded by students. These light on pocket kiosks offer scrumptious dumplings for as low as ten bucks. Momos are, for sure, going to be one of my fondest memories of being on campus. A lot of students have kept opening a momos stall as a backup career option,” chortles Lakshita Sangwan, a final year student of Delhi University.
Prerna Gupta from north Delhi says, “I love this new trend of innovative momos in Delhi. No doubt, my momos preferences have changed over the years. I used to be a huge fan of paneer (cottage cheese) gravy momos, but why to restrict my choices when my craving for momos can be satiated by so many unique flavours. A kiosk called Mr Momos near my place serves about 100 offbeat varieties of momos including mint, butter masala (spice), achari (pickle flavoured), afghani, mushroom, and maggie.”
Some locals are however new to exploring these varieties and are still a little apprehensive about completely accepting the innovative versions of momos. According to Singh, “Though we offer a lot of momo varieties, locals usually prefer the Indianised versions. They opt for flavours that are more familiar to them like malai chaap (an Indian cuisine) or achari. Their knowledge about new innovative flavours is still restricted, somehow. They all love spicy momos, though.”
Momos for dessert
Other than spicy and savoury, sweet momos are also making their way to plates and palates. Darjeeling Steamers, an outlet in South Delhi serves momos with a sweet twist with flavours like Oreo, apple cinnamon, chocolate fruit and nut, and banana. The steamed or fried Oreo flavoured momos are stuffed with the famous Oreo biscuits and some chocolate sauce, usually Nutella. Served with chocolate sauce, these dumplings can be paired with vanilla ice cream as well.
Mogambo Khush Hua and Wow Momos are another such eateries that serve ice-cream and chocolate momos.
Momos and their global avatars
The roots of these scrumptious dumplings can be traced back to Tibet, from where the recipe of this finger food travelled across the globe, along with the migrating Tibetans, who made sure to give the world a taste of their culture wrapped in their cuisine. Momos adopted a new avatar in every new region. Japan’s gyoza, China’s jiaozi and Central Asia’s manti are some examples.