How to Make Cheese and Spinach Momos

Here’s one of our favorite veg momos recipes, with a cheese and spinach filling that we think you’ll like.

cheese and spinach momos
Ready to eat: fresh-cooked, and steaming hot cheese and spinach momos

These dumplings, called chura (cheese) momos in Tibetan, are quite a bit lighter in fat and calories than their beef brothers and sisters.

Veg Momos Recipe: Spinach and Cheese

Makes about 55 momos. (People eat very different amounts of momos, but it is common for one person to eat 8 or more.)

INGREDIENTS

Dough

  • 3 cups of all purpose wheat flour
  • About 1.5 full cups of water (may need a little more or less, depending on your flour)
Veg Momos Recipe: Ingredients for Cheese and Spinach Momos.
The filling ingredients for Cheese and Spinach Momos.

Spinach and Cheese Filling

  • One cup of cooked spinach (squeezed dry of water), chopped small
  • 5.5 ounces (157 grams) grated parmesan cheese (You may want to buy a wedge and grate it yourself as the pre-grated ones in the store have some weird, non-food additives.)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped small
  • 2 tablespoons of cilantro, chopped small
  • .5 tablespoon salt
  • A little bit of oil (we use spray oil) to grease the steamer.

Warning: All momos will be very hot when first cooked, especially the filling. Please be careful!

The grated cheese for the filling
The grated cheese for the filling (in this case, Parmesan).

PREPARATION

(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.
Squeeze Spinach
Squeezing the water out of the cooked spinach.

Prepare the Filling

  • Wilt the spinach. You can do this any way you like. We put the spinach in a pot of boiling water very briefly, just until it wilts, then remove immediately, place in a strainer and run cold water over it to stop further cooking. Once wilted and cool, squeeze as much water as you can out of the spinach.
  • Grate your Parmesan cheese. We used 5.5 ounces (157 grams) but you can use more or less, as you like.
  • Mince 4 medium-sized cloves of garlic
  • Mince 1 medium red onion
  • Combine the spinach, Parmesan, garlic and onion along with .5 tablespoon salt in a bowl and mix well.
Parmesan cheese, spinach, onions, and garlic.
Parmesan cheese, spinach, onions, and garlic.

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.
Making the dough circles.
Making the dough circles.
Making Momo Dough

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.
Preparing to fold the half-moon momos.
Preparing to fold the half-moon momos.

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 spinach and cheese 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 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.
Layer your pre-cooked momos in a steamer.
Layer your pre-cooked momos in a steamer.

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. You don’t need to cook long, just long enough to cook the dough and melt the Parmesan a bit.
  • 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, but these Chura Momos are better plain or just with a bit of soy sauce.

And if you’re interested in experiencing the real thing in Lhasa, you can learn how to travel to Tibet here.

Tibetan Home Cooking

Tibetan Home Cooking

Bring joy to the people you love by making your own delicious, authentic Tibetan meals

Updated on March 8, 2020. First published on June 17, 2017.

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Reader Interactions

Comments

    • yowangdu says

      Hi Jan,
      It could be possible but Tibetans never do this — the barley dough is not flexible enough to use it in the way we use wheat flour. This is why Tibetans don’t really make barley bread either. Thanks for your question!

  1. Heena says

    It is said that white flour/ all purpose flour spoils your health and Tibetans are known for their simple and light delicacies. How do you maintain that with all purpose flour.

    2ndly..with white or all purpose flour sometimes rice and chickpea flour is also blended is that recommended too?

    Recipe is well explained for novice like me. Thank you for putting up the dishes.

    • yowangdu says

      Hi Heena,
      Honestly, Tibetan food is simple and delicious but I don’t think we could call it light, in it’s traditional form. Some Tibetans these days have begun to use whole wheat flours, but lots of folks still love the all purpose white flour, even though it’s not extremely healthy. We haven’t heard of the rice and chickpea flour mixes. Thanks so much for your kind thoughts!

  2. Lila Blackwood says

    I highly recommend ancient einkhorn wheat, it is healthier than frankenwheat ( modern hybridized white flour ) and will work well in this recipe or any as a tasty substitute.

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