Tibetan momo with chilli sauce

Tibetan momo served with chilli sauce

Tibetan momo have a very special place in my cooking heart. There was a time in my life when I used to visit India on a very regular basis, sometimes two or three times a year, spending a month at a time in Sikkim which sits in the foothills of the Himalayas. It was there that I started to work with the Tibetan community, many of whom fled the country with the Dalai Lama in 1959 following the annexation of Tibet by the Chinese government, others of whom were born in India and have never visit their homeland but maintain their Tibetan culture, language and identity through their day to day lives…and their cooking. Momo are absolutely central to that identity and something I would always eat during my visits to Sikkim, including on one trip with my eldest daughter Jaz where we stayed at the Tibetan Refugee Settlement in Ravangla and ate so many momo we thought we would burst! But momo are very hard to come by in Italy where the Tibetan community is small in number and based mainly in cities such as Milan. It’s impossible travel to other regions of Italy at the moment let alone the UK to see my daughter or India to meet with my Tibetan friends. So this weekend I decided to have a go at making making momo and shared the experience with Jaz via Zoom. My pleating was pretty poor but these vegetarian momo with chilli sauce were still absolutely delicious!

Making momo with my daughter Jaz


For the filling

White or green cabbage, half or quarter depending on the size of your cabbage!
Three carrots
Half a green pepper
Two spring onions
Two garlic cloves, crushed
Juice of half a lemon
A piece of ginger (approx 3cm), grated
One tablespoon of soy sauce
Fresh coriander or parsley (optional)
One teaspoon of chilli (optional)
Black pepper

For the wrappers

230g plain flour
One teaspoon oil
One teaspoon salt

For the chilli sauce

An onion
Two large tomatoes or three small ones
Two spring onions
Two tablespoons chilli flakes
Three cloves of garlic
Two stalks of celery
One tablespoon of soy sauce
Fresh coriander or parsley (optional)
A splash of red wine or apple vinegar
A pinch of sugar
Salt and pepper to taste


Start by making the filling as it will need time to cool down before it can be wrapped. Grate the vegetables by hand or using a food processor, chop the parsley and put everything in a bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and leave to stand for 10 minutes to draw out some of the water.

Next, fry the crushed garlic and grated ginger in a wok or large pan for a few minutes taking care that they don’t burn. Then add the grated vegetables, squeezing out any excess liquid as you go. This will prevent the filling from being too wet and help the momo to hold their shape. If you feel your mixture is still too wet you can sprinkle in a little flour to thicken.

Cook for five minutes stirring regularly, then add the soy sauce, chilli (if using) and black pepper. I love chilli heat but these momo are served with a hot chilli sauce so leaving the chilli out of the filling gives more contrast and allows you to regulate the overall heat more easily. Plus it meant my two year old grandson Rex could try them! Cook for a further five minutes then remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice, season to taste and allow to cool.

Next we made the dough for the wrappers.

Mix together the flour, salt and oil in a bowl and then add enough water to make a dough. If you don’t add enough water the dough will remain crumbly and it will be hard to roll it thinly. If you add too much water just sprinkle in some more flour. Knead the the dough for 5-6 minutes until it’s smooth and elastic in texture. Then place it in a plastic bag or container and allow to rest for 20 minutes.

While the dough was resting we made the chilli sauce. Roughly chop the tomatoes, celery and spring onions and fry off in a pan with . When the vegetables are soft add the chilli flakes and allow to simmer away for 10 minutes, checking occasionally that there is enough liquid and adding a little water if not. Remove from the heat and add a splash of vinegar, a pinch of sugar and season to taste. Allow to cool before blending.

Now it’s time to assemble your momo! I found a brilliant video online which show you all the different folding techniques but it’s much more difficult than it looks!

Start by dividing up your dough into two and rolling into two sausages around 25cm long. Then cut or break into pieces, roll into balls and flatten with your hand.

Roll out each of the balls thinly making sure that the edges are thinner than the centre. The video above demonstrates this perfectly. Alternatively you can roll out one large piece of dough and cut out circles using a glass or cookie cutter and then roll out the edges. We tried both techniques with varying degrees of success!

The next step is to fill and fold your momo, placing around a spoonful of the mixture in each wrapper and pressing the edges together to seal the momo. We tried to make half moons and round pleated potti which came out okay and held together well but would definitely benefit from more practice! Place your momo in a steamer. I greased one layer and lined the other with cabbage leaves to prevent the momo from sticking. Both techniques worked well.

Place the steam over a pan of boiling water and cook for around 12 minutes until the wrappers become translucent. Serve with the chilli sauce and a very big smile!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. tanvibytes says:

    I love momos so much, but I’ve always been afraid of trying to make it at home. This recipe looks delicious, I can’t wait to try it! 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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