In Newari, one of Nepal’s oldest languages, ‘mome’ means cooking by steaming. ‘Momo’ is to Nepal what pizza is to Italy, and is available in every restaurant, hotel and household of Katmandu and other parts of Nepal. Momo is like Mount Everest – one of the symbols of Nepal. Now its popularity has spread beyond national boundaries and, thanks largely to Nepalese communities living abroad, it is growing popular in other parts of the world, too.
There are other reasons for momo’s increasing popularity of momo. First, it is cheap.A plate of momo is enough for a light lunch. Second comes the taste. Momo is prepared with special spices, which add unique and original taste to suit the Nepalese palate. The third reason is momo’s long history.
Momo has figured on Nepalese menus for centuries and ithas become part of the national culture. The fourth is its availability. It is found in every corner of the country and every restaurant and hotel, big or small. So how is momo prepared and what are the ingredients? Momo is made from wheat flour, vegetable oil, chopped onion, garlic, sesame, green chilies, tomatoes, meat (preferably beef), mustard powder, ginger juice and a blend of Nepalese herbal spices.
Originally, momo was made only with beef, but nowadays mutton, chicken, pork and even vegetables.The history of momo in Nepal dates back to as early as the fourteenth century. Momo was initially a Newari food in the Katmandu valley. It was later introduced to Tibet, China and as far away as Japan by a Nepalese princess who was married to a Tibetan king in the late fifteenth century.
Mahedra Shakya is the owner of three popular momo restaurants called ‘Momo Kings’ in Katmandu, which are always packed with punters. Shakya attributes the popularity of his momo to its authentic flavor. ‘ We use the traditional method to make momo. It gives a special, original taste, which people like,’ he says.
Since momo is slowly getting popular in India and other countries, Shakya plans to open momo restaurants in New Delhi, Calcutta and Mumbai in the near future. ‘I am planning to open momo restaurants in at least three cities in India by the end of 2001, and later in some European cities,’ says Shakya.
Momo has become part of Nepalese food habit and culture. As Nepal’s most original and oldest food, it needs to be popularized in the world as well.