Momos — Recipe for Tibetan Dumplings

Utterly unique and delicious, Tibetan dumplings are basically the unofficial national dish of Tibet.

If you would like to explore more of the wonderfully comforting, unusual flavors of traditional Tibetan food, please see our Tibetan Home Cooking eBook and video series.

Every Tibetan family has a slightly different momo recipe, with various theories on how to make them the most juicy and delicious, or how to keep the dough skins to the desired delicate thinness.

The variations are endless – momos can be meat, vegetarian, steamed (the most popular), fried, and cooked in soup.

Here, we show you how to cook both beef momos and Lobsang’s unique and wonderful vegetarian momos :-) You might like to try also his cheese and spinach momos recipe. And learn how many calories are in steamed veg momos.

In case you’re wondering, the word “momo” is pronounced with the same “o” sound as in “so-so.”

The Dough

First of all, make the dough.

If you want to make momo dough for four people, use about 2 cups of wheat flour (we don’t use whole wheat, but rather use white, all-purpose flour) and somewhere between 3/4 cups and 1 cup of water. The amount will depend on your particular flour. (You don’t have to be very exact about these measurements — Tibetans never are!)

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

Then knead the dough very well until the dough is flexible.

Now leave your dough in the pot with the lid on while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

You should not let the dough dry out, or it will be hard to work with.

 

The Filling

We make momo’s with either meat or vegetables.

In Tibet, they often use yak meat, but here in the United States, we usually use beef, or just vegetables for our vegetarian friends.

For vegetable momo filling:

Chop all the following ingredients into very, very small pieces:

Momos — vegetarian filling

  • Two onions
  • Two inches fresh ginger
  • Two or three cloves of garlic
  • A bunch of cilantro
  • One pound of cabbage
  • One pound of tofu*
  • One quarter pound of dark brown mushrooms (I buy them dried from Asian markets)*
  • Two tablespoons of soy sauce
  • One teaspoon of chicken, beef or vegetable bouillon

*don’t use these if you are making meat momos

For meat momo filling, add:
One pound of ground beef: This beef replaces the mushrooms and tofu in the vegetable recipe.

If you have enough time, you can use un-ground beef and chop the meat into very small pieces.

For both kinds of momos, put all of the ingredients in a pot or big bowl, then add a teaspoon of bouillon and two tablespoons of soy sauce.

Mix everything together very well.

(If you are making meat momo’s with ground beef, you may need to use your hands to mix it up.)

 

Shaping the Momos

When your dough and filling are both ready, it is time for the tricky part of making the dumpling shapes.

For this, place the dough on a chopping board and use a rolling pin to roll it out quite thinly.

It should not be so thin that you can see through it when you pick it up, nor should it be quite as thick as a floppy disk for a computer (remember those? :-).

Somewhere between those two should work out.

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.

That way, you don’t have to worry about making good circles of dough because each one will be the same size and shape.

Momos — shaping the dumplings

Of course, you can also make the circles by the more traditional, and more difficult, way of pinching off a small ball of dough and rolling each ball in your palms until you have a smooth ball of dough.

Then, you can use a rolling pin to flatten out the dough into a circle, making the edges more thin than the middle. This is much harder to do, and takes more time, though many Tibetans still use this method.

Now that you have a small, flat, circular piece of dough, you are ready to add the filling and make the momo shapes.

There are many, many different choices for momo shapes, and I will teach you two of the most common, the basic round momo, and the half-moon shapes.

(Of these two, the half-moon shape is easier.)

 

For the Round Momo

For both shapes, you will need to put one circle of dough in your left hand, and add a tablespoonful of filling in the center of the dough. (Or reverse all of these instructions if you are left-handed :-)

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.

Now you will have a little piece of dough pinched together, and you should 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.

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. That way you don’t lose the juicy part of the momo.

 

For the Half-Moon Momo

Momos - Tibetan DumplingsThe half-moon momo is very pretty.

For this style, you begin the same as with the round momo style, holding the flat circular dough in your left hand and putting a tablespoon of filling in the middle of the dough.

Then you have to fold your circle of dough in half, covering over the filling.

Now press together the two edges of the half circle so that there is no open edge in your half circle, and the filling is completely enclosed in the dough.

You will now have the basic half-moon shape, and you can make your momo pretty by pinching and folding along the curved edge of the half circle.

Start at one tip of the half-moon, and fold over a very small piece of dough, pinching it down.

Continue folding and pinching from the starting point, moving along the edge until you reach the other tip of the half-moon.

You can experiment with different folds and pinches to find the way that is easiest and nicest for you.

As you are making your momos, you will need to have a non-stick surface and a damp cloth or lid handy to keep the momo’s you’ve made from drying out while you’re finishing the others.

You can lay the momos in the lightly-greased steamer and keep the lid on them, or you can lay them on wax paper and cover them with the damp cloth.

 

Last Step: Steaming the Momos

Finally, you should boil water in a large steamer. (Tibetans often use double or even huge triple-decker steamers, to make many momos at one time.)

Oil the steamer surface lightly before putting the momos in, so they won’t stick to the metal, then place as many as you can without touching each other.

Add the momos after the water is already boiling.

Steam the momos for about 10 minutes, then serve them hot, with soy sauce or hot sauce of your choice to dip them in.

Tibetan hot sauce, sepen, is perfect for momos.

At home, along with homemade sepen, we use soy sauce and the spicy version of Patak’s Hot Lime Relish, which we get in Indian stores, or the Asian section of supermarkets.

Be careful when you take the first bite of the hot momos since the juice is very, very hot, and can burn you easily.

Momos are very good for your social life. When we are making momos, we chat and have a lot of fun. And they taste great!

 

To see momo making done by two masters, watch David Johnson’s spare, poignant short documentary, “Momo,” about two Tibetan refugees living in Dharamsala, India who make momo’s for a living.

 

 

If you found this post useful, we would really love it if you share it with your Facebook fans or Twitter followers or Google+ circles today.

All it takes is a simple click on the “like,” “share,” “tweet,” or Google+ buttons to the left of the post. Thanks!

 

You can get a step-by-step video showing you how to cook steamed vegetarian and meat momos, as well as recipes and videos for almost every classic Tibetan food, in our Tibetan Home Cooking ebook and video series >>

For free, you can get the video recipes for butter tea (po cha), pull-noodle soup (thenthuk), savory porridge (drothuk), tsampa with butter tea (pa), and hot sauce (sepen), when you sign up for our Tibetan Culture Newsletter in the box below.

 

 

By Lobsang Wangdu

Comments

  1. I love momos drajeeling is a most famous place for momos,,,

  2. Can I make my momo four hours before I need them, keep them in the fridge (I don’t like to freeze potato, and that’s what I’m putting in them) and then steam them before dinner?

    • Hi Arianne, You could do this but you run the risk then of drying out your dough before cooking. Sometimes we put a damp cloth on the shaped momos while finishing all of the shaping, but four hours is a long time to do that and likely to be sticky. Sorry we can’t offer a nicer solution!

  3. This recipe sounds amazing, I’ll give it a go soon!
    Thank you so much for sharing :)

  4. If i wish to re-steam it later For how long we can keep them out after first steam in normal temprature ?

    • Hi Varun,
      After the first steam you can leave them outside maybe half a day or less, depending on the heat, and in the fridge 2-3 days — then to resteam just follow the same steaming procedure as the first time. All the best!

  5. Thanks for your simple recipe and clear instructions. Can I make and keep momos in advance? If so how much in advance and how can I store them? Can I keep them in the fridge? Will they get sticky or watery if made in advance and refrigerated (to be steamed or re-steamed when needed)?

    • You are so welcome! You can make momos and freeze them in advance, but don’t keep them in the fridge. If you freeze them, you can steam them right out of the freezer. Just take a little longer. Tibetans often do this. Hope this helps!

  6. Anonymous says:

    For what portions are the quantities you mention in this recipe? How many people or how many momos can you make with the quantities that you mention?

  7. I make mine with regular self rising flour. Make sure not to knead too hard. I also add 1 egg to the dough

  8. Had made the maida base flour and stuffed with chicken, but it was like fried in oil, such harder..

    tried thrice in same month but the result was the same.

    can you please help as we luv momos..

    in a shop atleast 5 to 6 plates of each 6 or 7 served will be the qty of we have weekly. if you could help, we could make this at home and enjoy life long,,

    thanks, Muts

  9. Jeremy Williams says:

    I made chicken momos the other day and the meat filling inside turned up hard.I remember eating momos in a chinese restaurant they were so soft and almost melted in your mouth.Did it become hard because I used a mixer for grinding the chicken or did i leave in the steamer too long ( about 10-15 mins) ? Should i have chopped the chicken instead ?I had mixed an egg with the filling,could it due to that ? By the way your momos look great

    • Hi Jeremy, we find that adding a little veg ingredient to the meat, like some finely chopped bok choy, softens them up a little. The egg is likely to bind the meat together, so contributed to the hardness. Some Tibetans add a little oil, just a little. Hope this helps!

  10. Do you have to cook the beef and ingredients before filling the momo?

  11. rozario anand says:

    dear Mr. yowandu
    how much dough will i need to make roughly 100 momos. I would like to make it for my sons birthday.

  12. CHANDAN SHAH says:

    dear sir,
    thank you for you recipe… momos became our favourite food now a days.
    we want to know the process of frozen it. will you please send me the details of the process . so that we can make it in bulk and keep it frozen to be used over months. now a days every foods are available in frozen version. we want to make momos a commercial product and popularize tibetian food and their lifestyle in our area.
    please mail me the complete process of frozen

  13. Hi
    I know my dough and the filling to the best and they come out good. But I miss the sauces that my Tibetan friend used to make it in Melbourne. He used to make two three different types of sauces,
    1. With tomatoes ginger garlic
    2. Chillies tomatoes garlic
    It was the best sauces I had in my life

    Will any body if know how to make these sauces or chutnees please advise

    Thanks

  14. Made these in India with maida, weren’t bad at all. although when serving them they got stickier and stickier. they would break as the part touching the plate would not come off. the first few were really hot and good.
    Did i leave them in the steamer for too long?

    • Hi Varun,
      Thanks for writing. It is possible the momos were in the steamer too long – as soon as you cook the momos, remove them from the steamer. (Dump them on a serving plate or bowl.) More likely is that you need add more oil to the steamer before you put the momos in. Oil the bottom and sides of the steamer tray that you will put the momos on quite well. It’s also possible the dough could be a bit too wet. Not sure about that. Hopefully you can solve this issue and just enjoy your tasty momos!

  15. Dheeraj Chakilam says:

    We made the vegan version.
    I’m not sure if we got it right. The filling was tasteless.
    I didn’t add the vegetable bouillon.

    But I wasn’t sure what to do with the garlic or ginger.

    Just dice them along with the others or grind them?

    • Thanks for your feedback, Dheeraj. As for the ginger and garlic, you chop them very, very small. We’ve never had the experience of the veggie filling being tasteless. The veggie bouillon shouldn’t make that much difference but might have some affect. Definitely the garlic, onion, cilantro and ginger all give quite a strong flavor to our tastes. One thing may be that Indian food is usually quite a bit spicier than Tibetan food, so that could be a factor. Also, Tibetans almost always eat momos with hot sauce. We eat them with hot sauce and/or Patak’s Lime Pickle and/or soy sauce. You can see our hot sauce recipe here: http://www.yowangdu.com/tibetan-food/sepen-tibetan-hot-sauce.html Hope this helps.

      • Dheeraj Chakilam says:

        I think the problem was that we didn’t chop the garlic and ginger fine enough because of which the flavour didn’t mix well.

        We cooked the vegetable mix a bit in water after dropping in the garlic and ginger to make sure the taste is even and a little more Indian to our taste, haha.

        This might be useful for the Indian readers here-
        Also, because All-purpose flour in its plain and unrefined form is not really available in India, so we used Indian Roti Whole flour and a little maida to make the Dough. Also, because we didn’t have any kind of steamers, we just used our Idli cooker/steamer to steam the momos and it didn’t cause any problems at all.

        In the end we ate the Momos with Indian Lemon Pickle and also with Sepen, which was extremeley easy to make, and they tasted amazing!

        Thank you, Mr. Wangdu!

        • It’s great to hear back from you, Deeraj, and to hear all your clever modifications, which I’m sure our other Indian readers can take advantage of :-) We are always happy to share the joys of momo-making and momo eating. All the best to you!

  16. I have tried the Momo’s for my little daughters last week. they were hard and sticky.
    Will try with procedure given here and write you back.

  17. Sarthak Brahma says:

    Hii dear I am interested for opening a momos shop in Bhubaneswar.So how much it costs for opening this shop and where i can easyly get the momo makers .please inform me

    • Hi Sarthak, It’s great to hear that you are opening a momo shop :-) We have never sold momos so unfortunately do not know about the costs for opening a shop. As for momo makers, we don’t know if there are any machines that make momos. All the shops we know that sell momos have cooks preparing them by hand. It is a labor intensive process. All the best to you on your endeavors!

  18. What flour do we use , rice flour ,Maida , or wheat flour?

  19. Hello really delicious momos.
    i would like to have them right now.
    hmmmm i cnt wait any longer to eat it.

  20. Help! Is there any possible way to _estimate_ the nutritional makeup of these?? I LOVE the beef dumplings a local Tibetan restaurant has as one of their offerings at the annual outdoor “Taste of…” here – _but_ I am half way through a 90-day diet and have been doing very well (except recently, because of a fall & getting less exercise). It’s a great diet – mostly, more food than I want to eat, but very little in the starch family. The “Taste” is this weekend – and these dumplings are my all-time favorite item there. They come two to an order – and I eventually have two orders, after seeing what all else is on offer. It’s the wrapper that I can’t estimate – and, on the diet, one starch item should be no more than 17g carbs / 80 calories. [edit: 15g carbs – haven’t been able to make a correction]

    • Hi Nancy,

      On Sparkpeople.com, which has a lot of nutritional info in their food tracker section, there are two listings for momos. No info for beef, unfortunately. Also, we can’t vouch for the accuracy, but maybe this helps:
      Chicken momo: 1 dumpling: 57 calories, 7g carbs, 4g fat, 3g protein
      Veg momo: 1 dumpling: 78 calories, 10 g carbs, 3g fat, 3g protein.
      Good luck to you.

      • Thank You Soooooo Much!! I’m working that in – Definitely. On the Exchange Meals – I sometimes (not Very Often) allow myself the choice of 2 starches (80 cal. each) & 2 proteins (ca. 135 cal. ea.) when we’re to be eating out or at a dinner somewhere – the total calorie count of that is way more than the dumplings I would have. I should have written (80 cal., 15g.carb, 3g protein) & (135 cal, 0g carb, 23g protein, 4g fat). It’s so strange, composing here – no way to go back & edit a previous line. :-) Again, Thank You, for your Reply. I really appreciate it.

  21. I am planning to make mutton and chicken momos for a group of 25. please suggest, do i need to steam or cook the chicken and mutton before filling into the momos.
    Or the 10 minutes of momo cooking time in the steamer is ample for chicken and mutton as well.

    • We have never made mutton or chicken momos ourselves, but we have been with people making chicken ones, and the chicken did not need to be cooked ahead of time. We think mutton also would not need to be cooked. If you really want to be sure the meat is cooked, you could chop the meat or get ground meat, then stir fry it until it is cooked. Then mix with all the other ingredients and steam for the normal amount of time, because the dough has to cook. Hope this helps.

  22. Thanks soooo much for sharing the recipe. I tried the vegan version with minor changes (I hate cilantro) and I LOVE the momos :)

    • You are so welcome, Helena! We are happy that you love the momos, and love it when our readers make the recipes their own :-) All the best to you.

  23. These momo looks good but momo’s of Kathmandu are the best. I miss them so much

  24. saw this on google+ and then decided to check myself and cook momo at home so here i’m on your page and loved the simple cooking also shared it on Twitter and Pinterest Google+ :)

  25. This recipe is very good, this is my favorite food to pick up in the mornings in Tibet, and western Sichuan. Makes a good meal to carry along on a long journey.
    I also made momos using finely chopped chicken, and it cooked up very well.
    Can you give a recipe for homemade spicy lime sauce?
    Your film is beautiful.

    • Thanks very much, nauplii :-) The chicken momos sound great too. We did once try to make lime pickle on our own but have to admit that we failed miserably! Your note inspires us to try again, or perhaps other readers out there have a good recipe? The best to you!

  26. Richard Kurzkoch says:

    I’m not sure if they’re “utterly unique” if they look the same as Chinese dumplings (such as jiaozi).

    • You are right that they do look like Chinese jiaozi, and of course some Tibetan foods have roots in Chinese food, but honestly Tibetan momos are truly unique in taste. That’s all we meant. Thank you for your feedback.

    • Hi Richard visit Dharamsala and taste some momos of McLeodganj…you’ll taste the difference in Tibetan momo and Chinese jiaozi :)

  27. Pls tell me the flour you use is all purpose flour or Maida

  28. Thanks, Jeff! Sweet that you are teaching your kids the virtues of momos :-)

    Just made a dozen vegetarian momos for the family. Very tasty. The kids each ate one while I explained what a momo was. They definitely got a kick out of trying something new but are not used to eating dumplings. Me and my wife loved them though.
    Thanks

    2011-11-17 14:31
    Just made a dozen vegetarian momos for the family. Very tasty. The kids each ate one while I explained what a momo was. They definitely got a kick out of trying something new but are not used to eating dumplings. Me and my wife loved them though.

    Thanks
    Quote

    2011-10-27 10:31
    You’re so welcome Shivani! Are you in India?

    2011-10-26 22:00
    this is my favorite street food!!..me and my sister can literally ive on them..thanks for the recipe!!
    Quote

    2011-10-24 02:37
    Quoting Lobsang and Yolanda:

    Hi Anil,

    Great to hear from a Nepali in Russia who loves momos :-) We’re totally addicts too!

    All the best!
    thanks Lobsang & yolanda…..all the best

    2011-10-21 12:20
    Hi Anil,

    Great to hear from a Nepali in Russia who loves momos :-) We’re totally addicts too!

    All the best!

    2011-10-21 11:42
    I’m myself from nepal,but have been living in Russia for the past 20yrs…..I’ve made lot of Russians(friend s) MOMO ADDICT!!my wife(Russian) is a great momo fan…she can make great momo dumplings!!

    2011-10-10 08:02
    You’re so welcome, Handrick. Let us know how they turned out :-)

    2011-10-09 19:14
    I am from South Africa but was in Nepal for six months recently.. I became a momo addict there.. Today I will be making momo’s like crazy.. Thanks for the recipre and techniques..

    2011-09-21 15:13
    Us too, Anna — craving momos we mean :-)

    2011-09-21 14:56
    I could eat momos all day long! I go to this little place called House of Tibet in Salt Lake City and I CRAVE their momos!

    2011-09-04 12:50
    Hi Thubde,

    You’re in luck — we include everything you mentioned in our Tibetan Home Cooking ebook and video series except for khapse. We will definitely put out a khapse recipe one of these days :-) Thanks so much for taking the time to write in!

    2011-09-04 01:41
    Hi all!
    I prefer deep-fried momos meself!
    And for your cookbook you must, this is an order, include a recipe for khapses!
    And Tibetan hot sauce and maybe some nice veggie dishes and breads, so you know the Amdo bread His Holiness’ mother used to make Him? I think he mentions it (very fondly) it in My Country My People… And of course sweet rice, which we all know from staying at monasteries and attending certain religious ceremonies! And maybe a sweet dessert, though I’ve understood Tibetans don’t usually do desserts!

    2011-07-26 07:57
    Sounds great, Mish, thanks for the feedback and tip!

    2011-07-25 22:46
    I made these for tea last night and used pork mince and cabbage. The kids loved them as did I.

    2011-07-13 15:24
    Hi Lana — you don’t really need salt since the soy sauce and bouillon both give saltiness. Of course if you like dishes quite salty, go for it :-) Thanks for writing and let us know how it goes!

    2011-07-13 07:00
    Does the recipe need salt ?

    2011-06-28 19:07
    Hi kylee,

    you do use the cabbage in the meat version. It softens the meat and gives a nice flavor:-)

    2011-06-28 18:35
    do you alsp add the cabbage to the beef ones ?

    2011-06-21 06:00
    You’re welcome Deepak :-)

    2011-06-21 01:27
    thank you so much

    2011-05-29 13:24
    Thanks Karma la!

    2011-05-13 22:21
    Thanks so much. Was waiting on FB for one of my friends to remind me. This recipe was so simple and helpful. Thanks, now I can go and make some :)

    2011-04-28 10:43
    We’re glad you found us, Sherin :-) Hope you enjoy the momos!

    2011-04-28 10:27
    I enjoy Memo’s the most and was searching for the recipe for a while.Thank you so much

    2011-03-08 09:04
    Thanks, Angel, and so glad you enjoyed them :-) Like the idea of using beef stock instead of boullion — we may try this.

    2011-03-07 19:46
    I tried this recipe and it was very good! I left out the boullion though as I can’t find one that I would personally put in my or anyone else’s body! I replaced it with a little reduced beef stock I had, and that worked very well! Thanks for the great directions!

    2010-11-30 09:16
    Thanks, Hblyon and Sukanya. Let us know if we can improve in any way. We are making a Tibetan cookbook and want to be sure the process is easy to follow.

    just made this recipe! So delicious! Thank you for sharing :)

    2010-11-09 04:06
    i am a fan of momos and will make this very often.

    2010-10-20 09:30
    Thanks, Shobha and lpr237 — the Tamil version sounds incredible. Is there a recipe somewhere? LPR237 — we haven’t made momo’s in a while and your post makes me think it’s time to make some at home again!

    2010-10-19 06:33
    @ Yowangdu – thx for d recipe…..i’ve been plannin to make momos myself for quite some time now after ages nd ages of hoggin over dem at restaurants ….. gonna try dem soon :D

    2010-10-13 19:37
    as krishna says, we do make modaks or kozhakattai as we call them in tamil. They are sweet,but we do have this savoury version which is filled with a roucly ground paste of moong dal, chilli, coconut, coriander etc.
    I tasted my first momos in Tawang. being a vegetarian, I opted for the one filled with cabbage. It was good and filling too. I did try making some at home after I came back. but not as good as the ones I had there. May be I rolled out the flour a little too thin. Now that I have read this, will try it out again.
    We did get some delicious momos at the Kala Goda festival in mumbai!!!!

    2010-10-13 15:06
    Thanks to you both :-)

    Krishna, the sweet versions sound absolutely wonderful. Are they steamed also?

    Deb, yes, the fried version is great too, but heavy, for sure. There’s the soup version too. We may put a recipe for this on the site. Did you eat the fried ones in Tibet, or in exile communities?

    2010-10-13 04:14
    Momos taste good, and moreover, as it is mostly steamed, we can avoid eating oily fried stuff (however, there is this fried version of momo sold on the streets too).

    2010-10-13 03:54
    Very interesting. But I would like to tell
    that in all over south india we prepare similar to momos for Ganesh chaturthi festival and we call them as MODAKA OR KADUBU and generally the fillings are sweet made out of coconut, sugar or jaggery, white thil and jaggery.

Leave a Comment

*