If you ever want to know how it feels to hate every subject you’re studying, take up the Indian education system in high school. Hands down one of the most painful and academically void time of my life. I don’t think anything I learned in classes 11 and 12 has ever helped me in real life other than give me PTSD about math. Till date, I have nightmares where I have a math exam tomorrow and I haven't prepared for (and I haven’t had an algebra class in the past 5 years).
One of the popular things that students my age did was take tuition classes— extra classes after school to study the same things that we just studied because the volume of the curriculum usually needs a lot of repetitive training (not learning, training). I had physics, chemistry, and math tuitions every other day right after school got out. My friends and I would rush out of school and chill for an hour before our first extra class. That hour was usually spent in this tiny cafe in Phase 1, Gurgaon which sold suspiciously cheap momos- tiny steamed chicken dumplings enveloped in a thin wheat flour casing.
We used to devour momos like they were the only food available. These dumplings have Tibetan origins, usually filled with beef or pork and served with a warm clear soup. We used to have chicken versions of the same with a crazy spicy sambal-esque sauce. Momos have been part of our household for a while now. We made them on special occasions or on Friday night dinners when we were tired of the same home food. I used miss these a lot in college and anytime I was back home, I would find ways to have them made at home or go out with friends and share a plate (sans the tuition classes thereafter).
Momos bring people together. Its rare for people to say no to a momo offering, though my new mindful eating program has forced me to do that a couple of times. Its also one of those things that are enjoyed for it simplicity, yet when you think about making it you notice its complexity. In fact, due to it popularity and low prices, there are very few people who actually make them at home. My first experience making them was actually in China in the 11th grade when I went to a small city called Kunming on the west side of the country. I was living with a pen pal named Zhang. His family knew no English but they saw me and realized, I could eat. The times I saw Zhang’s parents during my two weeks in the country, were times that we were eating. Zhang and his family fed me everything, from yak meat soup, to fermented duck eggs, to even fried grasshoppers. I loved my experience with the family and even though we didn't speak the same language we connected through the common language of food. The first thing that I ate at their home were dumplings. Pre-cut rice paper, minced duck filling that were submerged in boiling water and stirred for 5 minutes and then served with the same water in which they were cooked. Even though momos are quite different, every time I eat one, I am reminded of my time in China, making (and failing to make) dumplings.
This weekend that just went by, I had friends both old and new come over for a potluck where I made one appetizer and the main dish. While I’ll talk about what I made for dinner some other day, the appetizer I made were momos. The idea for momos actually came from Saanya who had commented that I make them on my post about Naomi’s chocolate chip cookies. I had some experience making them and since this past weekend was an extended one, I decided why not be a tiny bit more innovative. I decided to color my momo casings; an idea I got from Bon Apetit Magazine's recent cover. I was researching colors and the best kind of synthetic gels to use when mum said that I should use natural colors to get a nice pastel hue. With that added challenge, I began pureeing veggies to extract colors. The green was achieved by spinach while the reddish, maroon was achieved by beets. For yellow I tried turmeric, but the aroma was too strong and carrots bleached too quickly. With a deadline in mind I used a synthetic color for yellow (for now). Instead of dunking the momos in boiling water, I steamed them in special bamboo crates.
The color was a real crowd pleaser, not with just my friends but with everyone who saw them being made on my instagram story as well. I had no idea what to call it. I originally thought rainbow momos but the whole rainbow thing is done to death (and a little political tbh). Rohan, Saanya’s boyfriend (and my new friend!) thought of momo-chrome and like, I love it. Hence, I christened this dish as: Momo-chrome
I really enjoyed making this and to be honest, its not that hard at all. If you love momos and have made them before, this could be a great way to elevate your game!
As always please like, share, and comment with question or recipes you want me to give a try!
Serving size: 25 momos
200g all purpose flour
500g mince chicken/ beef/ pork or sautéed veggies
3 spring onions
A small piece of ginger, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons of sesame oil
For the color
1 cup of spinach
1 medium size beetroot
1 teaspoon synthetic colors
Puree the veggies. For the spinach, churn it in a processor and then sieve through. For the beets, remove the top skin and follow the same steps as above. This will be watery but go with it. The idea is that we replace the water needed in the dough with these juices.
Divide the flour into two equal halves and add the color slowly. Until the dough comes together and has the texture of play-doh
The filling is easy. Just mix everything and add salt and pepper. It should be well salted because there wouldn’t an opportunity to salt it later.
Roll out the dough until half inch thick. Think, half the thickness of a pizza dough. With a cookie cutter, cut out as many circles as possible.
Fill the circles and then pinch close
In a pot boil water. As it hits boiling point, reduce the heat until the water just starts to steam. Place a momos in a bamboo crate and place on top of boiling water. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the casings begin to glisten. Take off the pot and let it sit for 5 minutes before serving!