Dumplings is originated in Tibet in Himalayan region, when Kathmandu’s Newar, a business community started trading with Tibet Lhasa, they encountered meat dumplings made with yak-meat filling. When the traders returned to Nepal, they carried with them the know-how of the dish and transformed them into the diminutive Mama Cha, aromatic with the spices native to Nepal. When tomato and chili pepper arrived in Kathmandu, the accompanying spicy jhol achar—a tangy chutney with the consistency of a sauce—elevated the Mama Cha.
Today, “Momo” in short are the most popular snack in Nepal. A good Momo bursts open in the mouth and fills the nostrils with sharp, floral, warm, and earthy spices. The spice basis for the heat in the Momo can differ from one household to another.
Depending on the season and the weather outside, the cook can adjust the spices and leanness of the fillings to warm the body or fill the belly or, simply, provide the base for a day of bonding. Round palm-sized dough wrappers filled with seasoned meat or vegetables neatly folded into round pocket or half-moon-like purses or knotted, and then steamed. But that’s just half of what makes momo the best dumpling. Once steamed, they are served with a side of chutney or a thick, soupy sauce made with tomatoes, chili peppers, and cilantro.
As time go by there are so many other varieties of Momo came out; boiled, fried, Kothey. But everybody dipped them in chutney—or more commonly these days, in a bowl filled nearly to the brim with jhol, a spicy, lukewarm sauce made by puréeing tomatoes, garlic, cilantro leaves, sesame seeds, roasted soybeans, and half a dozen other spices. Heaven.