Until recently, Lobsang had never tried to create a chicken momo recipe — probably because we love so much both the veggie ones and the beef ones that he makes. But we finally tried them out and this new recipe is a surprising new favorite. Traditionally Tibetans don’t eat chicken, but after coming into exile, they have made efforts to be more healthy in general and especially to consume less red meat. These chicken momos are a perfect alternative. Our vegetarian friends should check out the oh-so-tasty veggie momo or spinach and cheese momo recipes 🙂
Recipe for Chicken Momos:
- Prep Time: 1.5 hours
- Cooking Time: 10 minutes
- Makes about 55 momos. People eat very different amounts of momos, but it is common for one person to eat 8 or more.
- You will need a steamer.
- 3 cups of standard all purpose wheat flour (We don’t use whole wheat for these. You can do it, but it’s a bit inflexible for shaping the momos)
- About 1.5 cups of water (may need a little more or less, depending on your flour)
- 1 pound of ground chicken (We use organic and pasture-raised.)
- 2-3 stalks of celery, chopped small
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 medium red onion, chopped small
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped small
- 2 stalks of green onion, chopped
- 1/3 cup of cilantro, chopped small
- .5 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (we use low sodium)
- 10 little pods of emma/Szechuan pepper (= about 1/4 teaspoon ground up)
- A little bit of cooking oil (we use avocado oil) to grease the steamer.
Warning: All momos will be very hot when first cooked, especially the filling. Please be careful!
(We are slightly adapting Lobsang’s basic veg or meat momo recipe, which you can see here.)
Prepare the Dough
- Put about 3 cups of wheat flour in a bowl and slowly add about 1.5 cups of water. We use unbleached white (not whole wheat) all-purpose flour.
- Mix the flour and water very well by hand and keep adding water until you make a fairly smooth ball of dough.
- Knead the dough very well until the dough is flexible.
- Leave your dough in the pot with the lid on while you prepare the rest of the ingredients, or put it in a plastic bag.
- You should not let the dough dry out, or it will be hard to work with.
Prepare the Filling
- Combine all the ingredients with the ground chicken and mix well. Lobsang does this by hand.
- Set the mixture aside while you prep the dough. If you’re new at this and it will take you a long time to make the dough, you could put your mixture in the fridge.
Make the Dough Circles, the Easy Way
- 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, or to use a round cookie or biscuit cutter, as you see in the image. Our biscuit cutter is 2 3/4 inches in diameter, but it’s a tiny bit too small. A 3 inch diameter cookie/biscuit cutter would be perfect.
- That way, you don’t have to worry about making good circles of dough because each one will be the same size and shape.
Or, Make the Dough Circles, the Traditional Way
- 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. See this method being done in our video of Chef Tsering’s momo party.
- 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.
Shape the Momos
- 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. For this recipe, I used the half-moon shape, which is easier to learn than the round one.
The Half-Moon Momo
- For this style, you begin by holding the flat circular dough in your left hand and putting a tablespoon of the chicken 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 this chicken momo recipe, 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 a lightly-greased steamer (see the step below) 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. (We use a large double-decker one, which is nice because you don’t need to make a ton of batches.)
- 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.
- Serve them piping hot (but please be careful not to burn yourself on the very hot filling!). Normally, we would serve the momos with Tibetan hot sauce, sepen, or Patak’s Lime Relish. These days we’re using a new, mild, tomato-based sepen recipe. That recipe is coming soon.
Tibetan Home Cooking
Bring joy to the people you love by making your own delicious, authentic Tibetan meals