One of my favorite things about cooking is learning to cook ethnic foods. I was born and raised in the midwest, and on a hog farm when I was young. Our meals ALWAYS included the “midwest trio” – meat, potato and corn, (usually canned). I have no idea when or how I learned to LOVE trying new foods. But somewhere along the way, I learned the joy of trying many different foods – and when it’s home cooked and healthy – EVEN BETTER!
I owe this dumpling recipe to my new good friend, Saru who is from Nepal. Saru came to the US four years ago to study nursing and has been away from her family for a long time. We love having her over to our house for dinner, and comparing notes on our cultural differences. After cooking several different meals for her that included, Indian food, traditional St. Patrick’s day food, and some basic American food – she decided to come over and teach us how to make these traditional dumplings from her home. I just have to say how happy we were to learn this, because they are a little bit of heaven in a delicious steamed package.
Nepalese steamed dumplings
This recipe is extremely versatile, and forgiving. You really just gather the ingredients and mix by smell. In Nepal, they actually eat meat raw, so it was no big deal at all for Saru to taste the filling while we mixed it to get the right balance.
Won ton wrappers (we used 1 1/2 packages of large rectangular wrappers that had to be cut in half to make squares
2 lbs ground chicken
1 bunches fresh cilantro (or coriander) chopped
3/4 of a large red onion, finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
8-10 cloves garic, minced
fresh ginger – about 1 inch of the root
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
garam masala, approximately 2-3 Tbsp
curry, approximately 1 1/2 Tbsp
cumin, approximately 2-3 Tbsp
Apparently you can make your filling with just about anything, but some common ingredients include ground beef, chicken, turkey, or cabbage.
In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and set aside. If you like more heat, you can add more garam masala, or even red pepper. I love cumin so I add until I think it smells right!
Next, grab your won ton wrappers and a bowl of water. You should also start heating your water on the stove. It’s best to use a large steam pot if you have one, but if not, you can make a very functional one like we did with a stainless pot and aluminum foil.
Our super-clever homemade steamer, using 2 sheets of foil and poking holes with a toothpick.
It’s important the wrappers are square, so if you have trouble purchasing square won tons, just cut them into squares.
First wet the edges of the won ton wrappers with the water, then spoon a small amount of the filling into the center
The hardest part of making momos: fold them into little “purses” and seal all edges. This took me several tries to get right. They don’t have to be pretty, they just have to be sealed so the filling doesn’t come out while steaming.
Spray the steam tray or foil with cooking spray then place as many dumplings as you can inside. Try not to allow the dumplings to touch each other. Cover. (It’s important that steam doesn’t escape so if your lid has a hole on top like mine does, cover it with tape!
Steam the dumplings for about 8-10 minutes. The great thing about this is that it’s pretty hard to mess up. We got distracted playing “Just Dance” on the Wii during one batch and accidently left our dumplings steaming for 20 or 25 minutes, and they were still great.
This recipe makes a LOT of dumplings, that have to be steamed in batches. It’s always best to do this as a “group activity” it’s more fun this way! Get yourself a bottle of wine and some extra bodies and have a blast.
The SAUCE: I loved learning how to make this – I was blown away by how simple and DELICIOUS this is.
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
2 ripe tomatoes
1 bunch fresh cilantro (or coriander)
4 cloves garlic
fresh ginger, (minced), to taste
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
2-3 tsp garam masala
1 tsp curry
1-2 tsp garam masala
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic until softened. Add the tomatoes, WHOLE and cover until tomatoes cook through and become very soft. With a large spoon (or whatever really) break down the tomato. Stir in the chopped cilantro, and spices and continue cooking 2 or 3 more minutes.
Transfer sauce to a blender and puree. I used an immersion hand blender.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
FINALLY, serve and enjoy!