Momos are a favourite Indian street food nowadays. Earlier, these dumplings used to be available only in some Chinese or high-end restaurants. This food item is a native of South Asia and is also prevalent in North-East India. Momos are said to have originated in China, even though it is also made in a few other countries like Nepal, Bhutan, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Turkey etc. in some form. It is referred to as dim sum in Chinese cuisine. While it was being dubbed as healthy food simply because it is steamed, there has been a lot of criticism about it being unhealthy as well.
Are momos unhealthy?
The criticism is stemming from the fact that the outer covering holding the inner stuffing is made of Maida. Also, the non-vegetarian filling contained oil as well as MSG; besides, when eaten from outside, there is always the chance of hygiene issues, playing a part as well.
For most Indians, who gorge on samosas, kachoris, chaats and other such savouries, maida should not be an issue. Eaten occasionally, this refined flour should not cause too much of a health issue. And if you make momos at home, you could make the filling your way, and put almost anything in it. There are so many vegetarian filling options available for momos as well.
There is a fried version of the momos as well, which would again be unhealthy as compared to the steamed version. The vegetarian fillings are mostly finely chopped cabbage and carrots, though versions using paneer, khoya, soya, potato, etc. are all available. It is usually eaten by dipping into any spicy chutney, like the schezwan chutney, though when Indianised, you could try the spicy green chutney as well.
The sweet version of momos is similar to the Indian modaks or kozhakattai, using a coconut and jaggery filling. Even the chana dal/moong dal churan filling used for puran poli/obattu can be used for the sweet version of the momos. To completely turn it around to be healthy, momos can also be made using whole wheat flour or atta.
Healthy momo recipes
Here is how you could turn around the momos to be a completely healthy snack. Use whole wheat flour or atta for the outer covering, and use veggies like broccoli, sprouts, mushrooms, etc. or those of your choice. Add on some herbs like coriander, basil, to make it more healthy and flavourful. Use as little oil as possible while making the filling, and add in some spices like pepper, coriander, cumin, etc. for that dash of extra flavour and immunity. Here is one recipe you could try out.
- 1 cup Atta or whole wheat flour
- Two cups of finely chopped veggies (carrot, beans, capsicum, cabbage, mushrooms, sprouts, broccoli, etc.)
- One tbsp of finely chopped ginger, garlic and green chillies
- Salt to taste
Note: All the ingredients to be taken depending on the number of momos to be made. The rolled-out momo covering will be slightly thinner than that of the rotis.
The atta needs to be kneaded into the soft dough as we do for rotis and should be kept aside by brushing a bit of oil for a while. In a shallow pan, add a tablespoon of oil, and first sauté the ginger, garlic and green chilli bits and then add the veggies and continue to sauté till they are just done. (Not to be overcooked, veggies should retain the crunchiness). Then sprinkle the salt and if required a pinch of pepper powder and sauté for a minute and keep aside.
Prepare small balls of the dough and divide the filling into equal portions as well. Roll out the dough into a small circle, and put the filling and seal in the semi-circle by folding in half. Now lightly bring the edges of the semi-circle together and seal them in by pressing to get a standing shape. All prepared momos can be placed in the steamer and steamed for ten minutes, before serving them hot, with chutney of the desired flavour. If you want to indulge a bit, you could use readymade sauces instead of chutney, as well.
Note: You could completely avoid the oil in the above recipe, by steaming or microwaving the chopped veggies. Use ginger, garlic and chilli paste instead and lightly mix the steamed veggies along with these, and salt and use it as a filling.