Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tibetan Beef Momo

Momo, a tasty Tibetan delicacy, usually enjoyed home cooked or as street food in regions like West Bengal (predominantly Darjeeling), Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya. Typically, these dumplings are made in the round shapes, patterned neatly into folds, then steamed to perfection.

I was invited to my good friend, Shenpenn's Thanksgiving dinner where I was lucky to have tasted
authentic momos handmade by his Mom, Tenzin. Her momos are delicate, juicy, rotund beef dumplings best eaten steaming hot and dipped in chili sauce. Try this scrumptious finger food at your next cocktail party!

Did you know: Momos originated as hardy food fare consumed after a long day of meditation or long hikes up steep mountains.

- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cups water

1. Mix the flour and water very well by hand and keep adding water until you make a smooth ball of dough.

2. Knead the dough very well until the dough is flexible. You can keep your dough in the pot with the lid on while you prepare the rest of the ingredients or on the counter with a damp kitchen cloth. This will prevent your dough from drying out and making it hard to work with

1 1/2 lb ground beef
1 cup green onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup chives, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp grated ginger
1-2 tbsp water
salt to taste

1. Mix all your filling ingredients together.
When your dough and filling are both ready, it is time for the best part, making those cute round dumpling shapes!

2. Place the dough on a chopping board and use a rolling pin to roll it out thinly. After you have rolled out the dough, you will need to cut it into little circles for each momo. The easiest way to do this is turn a small cup or glass upside down to cut out circles about the size of the palm of your hand. This way, each one will be the same size and shape.

Try this: You can also make the dough circles traditionally by pinching off a small ball of dough and rolling each ball in your palms until you have a smooth ball of dough. Then, use a rolling pin to flatten out the dough into a circle, making the edges thinner than in center. The thicker center allows the momo dough to hold more filling!
3. Place one circle of dough in your left hand, and add a tablespoonful of filling in the middle of the dough. With your right hand, begin to pinch the edge of the dough together. You don't need to pinch much dough in the first pinch -- just enough to make a small fold between your thumb and forefinger.

4. Continue pinching around the circle little by little, keeping your thumb in place, and continuing along the edge of the circle with your forefinger, grabbing the next little piece of dough, and folding and pinching it down into the original fold/pinch being held by your thumb. Basically you will be pinching the whole edge of the circle into one spot.

5. Continue folding and pinching all around the edge of the circle until you come back around to where you started and then close the hole with a final pinch. Make sure you close the hole on top of the momo, so you don't lose the juicy part of the momo!

Did you know: The little crowns on the momos help hold the filling inside the dough while giving the dumplings they're unique shape.

6. Repeat until you have used up all your filling and dough.

7. Boil water in a large steamer. (Tibetans often use a double-decker steamer, to make many momos at one time.)

8. Oil the steamer surface lightly with non-stick spray before putting your momos in, so they won't stick to the surface. Then place as many as you can without touching each other. Add the momo's after the water is already boiling.

9. Steam your momos for 15-2o minutes. Serve them pipping hot, with soy sauce or hot chili sauce of your choice. Enjoy!!

Try this: The filling in momos can be made with a variety of ingredients but it is traditionally made with yak, Tibetan wild ox. You can try this same recipe with pork, shrimp or vegetarian (substitute meat with tofu and mushrooms).