I’ve known for quite some time that this past Sunday marked the Year of the Snake for Chinese. What I didn’t know until last week was that this past Monday was Losar, or Tibetan New Year. So allow me to wish you “Losar la tashi delek.” I learned how to say “Happy New Year” in Tibetan from Tashi Chodron, founder of Himalayan Pantry at a hands-on momo making demonstration at The Rubin Museum of Art.
I also learned there are several regional types of momo. In Nepal, the dumplings are round and seasoned with Sichuan peppercorn, garlic, and ginger. Bhutan’s are tear-drop shaped and often filled with shiitake mushrooms. And, South Indian momo are crescent-shaped. And there are, of course, the Tibetan ones found all over Jackson Heights.
“Momo is popular all over the Himalayas,” Chodron said. After her talk Chodron and her crew of momo ladies taught us all how to make the dumplings. It’s not as easy as it looks. The woman who brought her own chocolate chips to make dessert momo gets an A for effort.
The day before the momo making party I attended a Nepalese Ambassador Dinner led by Sahadev Poudel at Malingo in Sunnyside. The dinner, organized by my fellow fresser Jeff Orlick, featured many Nepalese delicacies, including bhatmas chiura, crunchy beaten rice with friery chilies and nutty fried soybeans. The sleeper hit of the night though was the dhedo thali. Dhedo, is a grayish paste made from buckwheat. It has a pleasing nutty flavor and serves as a great vehicle for daal and the preserved mustard green called gundruk. Gundruk, as Poudel explained, is sort of like the Himalayan equivalent of kimchi. “Gundruk and dhedo are like mother and father,” in that they are often eaten together.
And of course Poudel ordered two steamers of momo. Instead of the typical beef, he went with chicken, which were truly excellent. “Without momo there is no party,” he said. “I love making momo.”
I can’t say that I love making momo, but I certainly love eating them. And I consider myself fortunate to live in a place where delicacies from the rooftop of the world are just a subway ride away.