When you bite into one of these dumplings, you have to have caution. The juice can occasionally get out of control, spilling out of these Beef Momos with Tomato Achar, and burning your lip if you’re not careful. But once you taste them, you’ll be willing to run the risk of minor lip injury, tragic though it would be.
Nepal! Is there anyone out there who doesn’t have a secret part of their heart yearning to run away to the Himalaya? My breath gets deeper and the air seems fresher just thinking about it. I can see the snow-capped mountains. I can smell the yaks. I can feel my heart beating out of my chest because I’m afraid of heights. And I can’t wait to get there one day.
Since I have to wait to go to the mountain, I will instead bring the Momos to me. Momos are meat or vegetarian dumplings usually served with a spicy pickle. They are the staple snack of Nepal, along with Yak butter tea (a kind of salty, savoury tea, made with fermented – you guessed it – yak butter). They serve them in all the Nepali restaurants in my town, and since I have yet to make it to the beautiful mountainous region itself, I like to escape through the kitchen and make these.
The dumpling skin is really easy to make, and is definitely the kind of repetitive, low though activity that suits itself perfectly to mountain daydreaming. But pre-made gowgee or jiaozi wrappers would be fine. To fill the dumplings, a simple mix of aromats and herbs – ginger, cumin, coriander (cilantro), white pepper and salt – is added to coarsely minced beef. And the tomato achar is the next big condiment, as far as I’m concerned. It’s a spicy, fragrant, tangy, moreish sauce of garlic, ginger, chilli, fenugreek, coriander and turmeric, with fresh tomatoes, a little sugar and a spike of vinegar. As delicious on some fried eggs as it is to dip a momo into.
As always with Street Food Friday, I have to tell you that I can make no claims as to the authenticity of this dish. In case I haven’t made it perfectly clear, I’ve yet to go to Nepal, so I have nothing to compare these to. But this is my home-spun take, and I can definitely say with complete confidence that they are incredibly, mouth wateringly good. The dumpling wrappers are silky and al dente, the bases crisply fried in butter, the filling is savoury and spiced with juices spilling everywhere, and the sauce is just the spiky, rounded thing to cap it all off.
I hope you try these! And I hope you have breathtaking mountain dreams while you do it!
- 1½ cups (225g) plain flour
- pinch of salt
- ⅓-1/2 cup water
- ½ pound (250g) minced beef
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp sea salt flakes
- ½ tsp ground white pepper
- ¼ cup chopped coriander (cilantro), leaves and stalks
- 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger (use a grater)
- 2 fresh tomatoes
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger (use a grater)
- 1 fresh red chilli, finely sliced
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander (cilantro), leaves and stalks
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp butter
- To make the wrappers, dump the flour, salt and ⅓ cup water into a food processor and blitz on high until the mixture looks like wet sand. Turn the processor off and grab a handful and squeeze it - if it sticks together, but isn't sticky, it's good. If it's falling apart, add a little more water and blitz again. You shouldn't need more than ½ cup.
- Turn the dough out, squeeze it all together in a clump (it will be very firm) and wrap in plastic. Set aside on the counter to rest for 30 minutes.
- To make the filling, simply place all the ingredients in a bowl and stir together until well combined.
- To make the achar, blitz the tomatoes in a blender or food processor until pureed - skins and all.
- Place the oil into a small saucepan over a medium heat, and add the mustard seeds and fenugreek. When the mustard seeds start to pop, carefully add the garlic, ginger, chilli and turmeric, and cook for a few minutes, or until the garlic and ginger start to almost caramelize.
- Add the coriander to the pan and give it a stir, and then add in the blitzed tomatoes. Cook the mixture down until it is thick and reduced (about 5-10 minutes). Add in the sugar and vinegar, and a pinch of salt, stir and cook for a minute, and then carefully taste. Add more sugar, salt or vinegar, to adjust to your preference, and then set aside to cool.
- To make the dumplings, divide the dough into 16 ping pong sized balls, and keep them covered with plastic. Take one ball at a time, and roll out into a circle, fairly thin, and about the size of a large coaster. Take 1⅙th of the filling (about 2 tsp) and place into the centre of the circle. Wet the edges, and then gather them up, over the filling, and pinch them at the top, enclosing the filling, leaving no gaps. Press quite firmly to seal the dumplings.
- When all the dumplings are finished, place a large skillet over a medium heat, and add the butter. When the butter has just melted. Carefully place in all the dumplings in a single layer (do two batches if they don't fit). Cook the dumplings until they are light golden brown on the bottom, and then carefully add ½ cup of water and place a lid on immediately.
- Cook until the liquid has evaporated from the pan, and then remove the lid, and continue cooking until the bottoms of the momos are dark golden brown.
- Place on a platter, and serve with the tomato achar, and any other sauces you want!