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May 4, 2010

Tibetan Momos in Darjeeling

Hello friends! I'm doing something a bit different today. I wrote a guest post as a contributor for Vegan Backpacker, a new blog by two vegans who are eating their way around the world in 2010. Thanks to their blog, we can take that journey with them. My guest post details the Tibetan momo cooking class that I took at Hot Stimulating Cafe in Darjeeling, India. You will not want to miss the details, which includes a mysterious Nepali guitar man that serenaded us and then eventually came to my momo-making rescue. Once you have read my guest post, come back here for the momo recipe. A big thanks to Vegan Backpacker for allowing me to share one of my favorite meals in India!

 Hot Stimulating CafĂ© in Darjeeling, India

Learning how to make momos at Hot Stimulating Cafe in Darjeeling was one of my favorite things that I did during my trip to India. I brought the recipe home so that I could share it with you. Some of the recipe was in loose measurements, some exact metric measurements. I halved the recipe, converted the measurements, and tested it in my own kitchen, and they turned out perfect. I am not going to lie, these are a lot of work, but oh, so worth it! I recommend grabbing a friend to help you if you can.

Tibetan Momos
(Adapted from Hot Stimulating Cafe cooking class)
Serves 4

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cups water, divided

3 cups cabbage, finely shredded
1/2 large red onion, finely diced
1 small carrot, grated
1 tbsp ginger, minced
2 small potatoes, peeled, boiled, and mashed (about 3/4 cup)
1-1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup light tasting oil

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle 1/4 cup water over the dry ingredients and mix well by hand. Add another 1/4 cup of water and knead for several minutes. Add the last 1/4 cup of water, 1 tablespoon at a time (4 total) and knead well in between. If your dough it too dry add more water, or if it is too sticky knead in a little bit more flour. Knead well until you have a nice stiff dough--a bit stiffer than bread dough. It took me about 20 minutes to make the dough, but if you are an experienced dough maker, you will likely be able to accomplish this in half the time. Cover the dough and allow to sit for 30 minutes.

While your dough is sitting start chopping the veggies, the finer the dice the better. Combine the veggies in a large bowl. Heat the oil in a small skillet and then pour the hot oil over the raw veggie mixture. Stir immediately to coat, and continue stirring for a minute to soften the veggies. Last add in the potatoes and salt and stir until well incorporated. Set aside.

Now it is time to get back to the dough. Tear off a handful of dough and roll between your hands into a hot dog shape. Pinch and twist the end of the dough, tearing off about 1 heaping tablespoon worth, and toss the piece back into the bowl (just like Rumba in this pic). Continue until you have gotten through all of the dough, trying your best to make the pieces the same size so that the dumplings will cook evenly. Once you have torn all of the dough into pieces, go back through them and roll them between your hands to smooth them out. During this time be checking for any pieces that are too large or too small and adjust as necessary. When you are done the dough balls should look like this:

Now you are ready to roll out the dough, you will want to use a nice smooth surface such as a wooden cutting board or your kitchen counter. Have a small bowl of flour handy to toss each dough ball around in just before rolling. Using your dominant hand, position your flat palm firmly on the center of the rolling pin and grip the handle with the other hand on the handle to stabilize (see picture). Since the dough is so small you will not have much control over it if both of your hands on the handles. Using your main hand, push the rolling pin down on the dough ball to smash it and begin to roll it out in small motions, and rotating positioning as needed to make the dough as round as possible. Roll the dough fairly thin, the finished piece should be about 3" - 3-1/2"  in diameter. I recommend working in batches since you won't be able to steam these all at once, so once you have about 20 pieces of dough rolled out move on to stuffing them. In the meantime put a damp cloth over your dough balls to keep them from drying out.

Time to stuff the momos! Place a flattened piece of dough in the palm of your hand and scoop a tablespoon of the veggie mixture into the center. Now, even though I was pretty impressed by how well I did folding the momos on my own at home, I am still not the best teacher. Since a certain Nepali guitar man isn't around, I found this video that shows the two main techniques.

The round style is typically used for meat momos and the half moon shape for veggie momos. They both are similar in technique, in that one side gets crimped before pinching it together to join it with the other half. The only difference is that your work in a circular motion vs. more of a straight line. Either way, you are only ever crimping one side of the dumpling. Make sense? (I warned you that I am not the best teacher!)

Now that you have some beautifully folded and crimped momos it's time to steam them. Spray your steaming apparatus with cooking spray so that the momos won't stick. Arrange them in a single layer, don't worry if they touch a little bit but you don't want them mashed together in there. Steam for 15 minutes. If after 15 minutes they are still a little sticky, steam them for a few more minutes. We enjoyed our momos with some tomato chutney, which was simply some pureed tomatoes, hot green chilies, and salt.


Thanks again to Vegan Backpacker for having me as their guest. I hope you enjoyed reading both posts about my cooking adventures in Darjeeling. Now get out of here and make some momos!

View of Darjeeling from our hotel room balcony.


  1. I so loved the momos and Dargeeling is lovely place. I have been there as a kid during my summer hols!!!

  2. Oh yummy. The filling reminds me of perhaps Somosas?

  3. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog! Yours is so gorgeous. I love the content along with all of the pictures.

    Somehow you just made dumpling-making look easy. Not sure how. but you did. And, of course, delicious. What a great filing!

  4. Those look extremely amazing! I'm very impressed.

  5. Great post Sarah! I haven't thought of momos in years. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us.


  6. Thanks for the recipe. I'll for sure try it someday. I only had momos once and they were great.

  7. Those look lush, Sarah! I'm heading over to the guest post now.

  8. such fun! And great photos, so jealous of your trip, thanks for sharing!

  9. what a wonderful post, Sarah! it looks like you and Becca had such a fun time making momos. i've never had them before, and i want to try and see if i can make some with gluten-free flours - they look awesome! that's so inexpensive for the momos class, and Rumba sounds like such a nice person - gotta love a guy with a sense of humor! that's too cool that the gentleman playing the guitar totally helped you get the momos technique down - and you got to share them with the locals, too?! score! thanks for sharing the recipe with us, and thanks for the fun photos along the way!

  10. I reaaly enjoyed your guest post Sarah. I felt like I was there with you.

  11. Excellent post, well worded with brilliant pictures - I must say i'm impressed. And jealous!

    Never even heard of 'Momos' before - and now, unfortunately, I have to make 'em :)

    Great blog, keep it up!

  12. Oh wow! Those look absolutely delicious!! I must try them. That must have been such a great experience :)
    The vegan backpackers are coming to Ireland in a few weeks, can't wait to meet them. Great blog they have!

  13. PS I just realised you weren't on my bloglist - have added you there x

  14. I just bought a rice cooker with a steamer attachment, first thing I could remember was the delicious momos I had in Darjelling , back in 2001, I wanna try this so bad :)

  15. the shape still needs perfection but over all very nice.. :) i'm a tibetan and a vegan for the past 3 years


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