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The luring scent of the steam, coupled with the first sight of the sheet of flour wrapped in a familiar pattern covering the mouth-watering filling when presented with the sizzling hot red chutney and mayonnaise, makes the perfect plate of momos any foodie ever craved. Let's know how the staple street food made its way into our hearts and menu.
History of Momos
I was bundled up inside the warmth of my blanket when my phone rang loudly. Expecting it to be my neighbour/ best friend, Aditi, I picked up the call only to receive a shrill babble from her end. "Ok, repeat it again in a comprehensive language," I instructed. Taking my lead, Aditi replied, "Sorry! My bad. I was just so excited. My brother confirmed the news that Momo aunty is back."
As soon as she finished the sentence, I rolled out of my bed and informed her, "Be ready in 5!" Disconnecting the call in a jiffy, I made myself presentable and grabbed my wallet. Just as I stepped out, I heard Aditi hollering my name, and all it took was a knowing smile to make a beeline towards the market.
On reaching the momo stall, we saw some people blocking the space. On further enquiry, we discovered that they were filming Devna aunty to make a blog. And that's how their interview started. Both Aditi and I already knew her story. She was a Nepali immigrant and was the sole-bread-winner of her family. Her best asset on this foreign land was her family's age-old momo recipe, which had everyone licking their fingers.
Aunty's voice snapped me out of my thoughts. And I was right! She was narrating the exact same tale I revised. Moving on to the history of momos, she explained that "It was obscure. Both Nepal and Tibet compete to claim the invention of the dish. The most common theory believes that momos were inspired by the Tibetan dumplings. When the Newari merchants of Nepal went to Tibet for trade, they adopted and re-invented the dumplings with their indigenous twist.
Nepal traces the birth of momos back to the 14th century. The locals knew it as Momocha, which explains the modern version of momo. Though the debate continues, momos have permeated into the menus of many neighbouring nations, in unique ways."
"Even I had no knowledge about this," mumbled Aditi. Shushing her, I said, "Let's listen to the rest of the story."
Aunty then explained when and how momos found its way to India. "It was the same Newari merchants who also brought the revered recipe of momos to India. But a closer look tells us that the immigration of Tibetan refugees in the 1960s commercialised the recipe, especially in Delhi."
"Wow! That explains so much. From Majnu ka Tilla to Dolma Aunty, Delhi houses some of the best and mind-blowing momo hotspots," I exclaimed with joy. "Not to mention the unique ways in which the dish is received. Today, we have every type of momo available. Whether it be steamed, fried, afghani, kurkure, tandoori, gravy, manchurian or any new unexplored style, momos have become irreplaceable for us. Available in a variety of meats, including vegetarian and paneer counterparts, momos are everywhere," added Aditi.
"A plate of momos is all we need in life," I re-affirmed the mantra Aditi, and I had long decided upon. "Amen," confirmed Aditi. And that's how we spent the rest of our evening. Wolfing down our very own favourite chicken momos made by Devna aunty over enthralling gossip and our unexplainable love for momos.
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