Momos! (Cheese & Potato Dumplings)

Momos are a serious business in the Himalayas. These little dumplings are served in steaming piles for breakfast and lunch across the length and breadth of the mountain range, from Bhutan and Nepal to the Tibetan fringes of Gansu and Sichuan in China.

Momos in Xiahe

Momos mean business

In Tibet they’re often filled with rather gristly yak meat, but occasionally you’ll hit pay-dirt and find a delicious mashed potato and cheese filling inside instead. Whether steamed or crisply deep-fried, cheese and potato momos make wonderful comfort food, especially if you imagine yourself in the depths of a Tibetan winter as you tuck in.

Hungry goat

I’d rather be eating momos…

While – like any good dumpling – they’re a little labour-intensive to make, the recipe below is fairly forgiving. The dough doesn’t stick and the filling can be added to or subtracted from at will. My next attempt will include adding something green (garden peas, fresh coriander/cilantro or chopped Napa cabbage) to the mix…

Cheese & Potato Momos

Ingredients

Preparation time: 45 minutes
Quantity:
Makes 15-20 dumplings

For the filling:
1 baking potato
1/2 an onion
10g fresh ginger, minced
50g cheese (mature cheddar/feta/parmesan), grated or crumbled
1tsp cumin (ground)
a knob of butter
salt and pepper

For the dumpling wrappers
200g plain flour
100ml cold water
a pinch of salt

Method:
1. Make the dumpling wrappers by combining the flour, salt and water. The dough will go kind of shaggy to begin with (see Exhibit A), but as you knead it for a few minutes it should start to look less like a big mess and more like a dough (see Exhibit B) – it might end up looking as though it has cellulite, but that will disappear. Wrap and leave to rest while you prepare the filling.

Dough

Exhibit A

Dough 2

Exhibit B

2. Put a pan of water on to boil. Roughly dice the potato into 1.5cm (1/2″) chunks, leaving the skin on and boil for about 6 minutes. Finely chop the onion and fry in the butter until soft. While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the other filling ingredients.

Prep

3. When the potatoes are cooked, drain well and leave for a few minutes to allow some of the moisture to evaporate. Then mash roughly and mix with the other filling ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Mash potato

4. Turn the rested dough out on a floured surface – any cellulite should have magically disappeared, and the dough should now be smooth and pliable. Roll the dough out, going as thin as you dare (somewhere around 1-2mm or 1/8″ thick). Cut out rounds with a 9cm (3.5″) cookie cutter. I found it easiest to roll the wrappers by splitting the dough into two chunks and keeping one covered while I worked with the other.

Wrappers

5. Place a heaped teaspoonful of filling into the centre of each wrapper. Moisten the edge of the wrapper and seal the edges securely around the filling. There are various artistic ways to do this, none of which I’ve mastered, so please feel free to improvise here – the main thing is to ensure that it won’t leak, especially if you’re planning to deep-fry your momos. Continue until all the dough has been used up, squeezing as much filling into each momo as possible.

Momo progress

Wraps

6. To cook the momos, you have a choice – either steam for 15 minutes (lining the bottom of your steamer basket with baking parchment) or deep-fry for 2 minutes. Enjoy immediately, with a side of last week’s hot sauce and a crisp salad with a vinegary dressing.

Cook’s Notes
  • Uncooked momos keep well if covered and refrigerated. If they look dry when you come to cook them, opt for steaming rather than deep-frying.
  • I used mature cheddar for my momos because that’s what we had in the fridge. The drier texture of parmesan would work really well, but slightly dried out feta would probably be the most authentic choice. Paneer (often used in Indian versions) would also be an interesting one to try…
  • I always seem to end up with leftover filling. If you manage not to eat this straight out of the bowl (ahem), it would make a good filling for an omelette, or will keep for a few days in the fridge.Action!

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