From Tibet To India — Tracing The Origins Of Momo

Homegrown Staff

The origin of the momo is kind of blurry. However, most people agree that it is primarily of Tibetan origin. It has been noted that when the Chinese attacked the region in 1959, the exiled Tibetans settled in various parts of India, including Dharamshala, Sikkim, Ladakh, Darjeeling, Kolkata, Delhi as well as many other metropolitan cities.

These Tibetans brought their culinary tradition to mainland India and went on to introduce their native dishes like the Momo, Thukpa, Chexo, Laping, and others among Indians. However, the momo, probably because of its simplicity and low cost, became more popular than any of the others.

Eventually, the momo-fever gripped the entire nation, and now it is savoured not only by college students but also by people of all ages and regions. Today, it’s seen more as fast food which can be whipped up in a jiffy than an exotic Tibetan dish.

The momo, which entered China through Tibet, and then spread through the Silk Route to other parts of the sub-continent has similar cousins in South-east and Central Asia. China has the Baozi, Jiaozi and the Mantou; Japan has Gyozo; the Mongolians have the Buuz; the Koreans and the Turkish have the Mandu.

In Tibet, momos are prepared with yak meat, tomato, garlic, ginger, dried chilly and oil-based filling. Both steamed and fried versions of the dish are savoured along with a chilli paste. But, in India, we get other varieties of momo with fillings as diverse as paneer, cheese, vegetables, corn. and even chocolate.