Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Homemade Chicken Momos!!

Last week, around this time, I was devouring some awesome fresh hot momos!! :)

If you ask anyone from North-East India, "momo" will probably be one of their all-time favorite foods. :) I love momos, and I guess I can eat them anytime anywhere! Yes, momos are dumplings, wantons or pot stickers; however you know them! In culinary parlence, they do have technical differences among them. In North East India, we widely know and love it as "momo". According to wikipedia, momos are steamed buns with or without filling, and originated in Nepal :) 

Back in the days when I was studying engineering, momo was one of the few fancy foods that a student could afford and easily access. I still vividly remember how happy and excited we were when our college canteen finally started to offer momos, I believe it was during our last few months. Our college is located in the outskirts of Guwahati; so we needed to come to the city if we got a craving for really good food. Finally having momo in our own college canteen definitely was a luxury!  Momo was not a very regular food during our childhood, but it started to become extremely popular and available around '01-'02! Because it was a restaurant (read "outside:) !!!) food and the concept of "momo" was relatively new, my adorable mom kind of forbade us from having it regularly. That may be a reason why "momo" seemed unbelievably tempting in those early years.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine mentioned during our conversations that she and her husband enjoy homemade momos occasionally in their household. I jumped at the opportunity and rather shamelessly invited myself to a "to-be-held” momo-night at their place :) :) Being the sweet friends they are, they accepted my self-invitation and I had some quality time last weekend. The recipe was hers and she only did all the hard work! I did help though; you know by taking pictures, providing moral encouragement and all that stuff!! :) :)

Before I delve into the recipe, let me come clean here! It's a lot of work for the lazy cook in me. Lots of chopping, kneading, rolling and boiling involved, which is not basically my kinda cooking! But that day, my friend helped me finally realize that even though it's quite time-consuming, the recipe is actually very easy-peasy! I did pick up the "steamer insert" afterwards from IKEA; but I don't really foresee myself spending a lot of time making momos all for myself; unless I have another 'night-in' with my friends to keep me company while I cook :)     

There are two major steps involved; one for the wrappers and the other for the filling inside. Chicken momo is my personal favorite but you can definitely select your choice of filling; vegetables or meat!

Ingredients: All-purpose flour, oil (we used olive oil), salt, boneless chicken, ginger, garlic, onions, green chilies (optional), Cilantro (optional) 
  • Add a bit of salt, few drops of oil and some warm water to the flour and knead for a couple of minutes. The dough has to be homogeneous in texture and also non-sticky. (This is the most challenging part for me :) ). 
  • Keep the dough aside and covered while you prepare the filling.

  • Chop up ginger, garlic, chili, onion and cilantro into really fine pieces.
  • Boil the chicken pieces for 15-20 minutes and afterwards mince finely. We used chicken thigh pieces.
  • Add salt and few drops of oil and the chopped vegetables with the chicken and mix everything together. Your filling is ready.
  • Knead the dough one final time before you start making the wrappers. Then make tiny dough balls.
  • Using a rolling pin and a working board start flattening the ball into a round or oval shape. You don't have to be very particular about the shape.
  • But you need to be careful about making the wraps thin, specially on the edges. The momos will not taste very good if the wrappers are too thick.
Now comes the fun part. This is where your craftsmanship will be put to test. Time to make momos, people :) 

  • Place a spoonful of filling into the middle of the wrap.
  • We went for the half-moon shape! Think of an imaginary line dividing the wrap in half; while covering the filling, bring the two edges of the wrap from either side to the imaginary line. 
  • Seal the edges together while folding one side at equal-sized spaces. This will make the pretty design.
  • Your momo has finally shaped up and is ready to be steamed. Don't wait for too long to put it into the steamer insert, it may get dry on the outside.
  • We used a big wide pan and fill it till with water till one third of the pan. Bring the water to boil.
  • Place the insert on the pan. Spritz some oil on it; this prevents the momos from sticking.
  • Put on the lid. You may check on the momos in between; they will turn golden in color when cooked! We had 10 momos each batch and it took about 15-20 minutes.  
  • Serve with some ketchup or some hot spicy sauce and your choice of beverage. My personal favorite is a hot cuppa of awesome Assam tea :)

Back home, the restaurants serve momos with some amazing mouthwatering spicy chutneys! Depending on which restaurant you go to, the flavor and the taste of the chutneys are incredibly different. And how can I forget the runny warm soup that accompany the momos.!! Such a lip-smacking combination of food! This is one of things that I so BADLY miss at times. I may have to research a bit and try to figure out if I can at least attempt to recreate the magical chutney and soup at home :). The frozen pot stickers from Costco or the dumplings from Panda Express are all very yummy, but in my mind it can never compare to the momos I experience back home.

Because of my friend, I got to enjoy the same savory taste after so many months, a big thanks to her :) By the way, you may notice that there are not many pictures of the final product as we were busy digging into the irrestible momos fresh from the kitchen ;) :) 

Go ahead, be brave and adventurous... you are bound to love the taste..!!

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