Momos, the Love of Delhi People

Momos are one of the most popular fast-food dishes in Delhi these days, but not many know that it was nearly discarded by the people at first.


A plate of momos along with some condiments.


When the dish was introduced here, it did not seem appealing to the people of Delhi and did not gain popularity that easily. Momos are a type of dumplings which have originated from the cuisine of Tibet, Nepal and North-eastern India along with heavy influence by Indian spices and herbs. Traditionally, a momo is prepared with minced meat filling, but over the past several years, this has changed and the fillings have become more elaborate. These days, momos are prepared with any combination of ground meat, vegetables and paneer. It tastes amazing, fills up your stomach and is pocket friendly.


Dolma Aunty Momos in Lajpat Nagar is one of the most famous and oldest momo stalls in Delhi. “We were the first ones to start selling momos as a street food in Delhi. We hardly got any customers in the start because people didn’t know what we were selling. Now, people love momos so much that there is a momo stall in every corner of the city”, said Ramu Rana, who handles the stall now and has been working at Dolma Aunty Momos for the past 20 years. Dolma Tsering started the stall in 1994 in the streets of Lajpat Nagar. Now, they have expanded to five locations and offer a variety of Chinese and Tibetan dishes. Before Dolma Aunty, momos were not sold as a street food in Delhi. In fact, only the restaurants with proper Tibetan cuisines used to sell them. Dolma Tsering changed this by introducing momos on the streets. According to her, she could hardly sell 15 plates per day when she had just started the business. Since the dish was steamed, people often called it raw and did not eat it that much. However, she did not stop selling momos and with time, its popularity increased. Now, as we can see, there are momos stalls all around the city and it has become a very famous dish, especially among the young people. “It’s quick, it’s tasty and it’s cheap. Just what the people want”, said Ramu Rana while talking about momos.


Street food has always been an integral part of this city and momos have grown exponentially over the years as a street food. It most certainly did not catch popularity in the beginning and took a while for the people of Delhi to get used to it. A major reason was because it stood out from the traditional North Indian street food people used to eat like Samosa, Gol Gappe, Chaat, Chole Bhature, etc. People weren’t used to such steamed food and making them eat it wasn’t easy. “Nowadays people love momos so much that there is a momo stall in every corner of the city. It wasn’t like this back in the day when we hardly got customers and there was no competition”, mentioned Ramu Rana. In present day, Dolma Aunty Momos has become an institution in Delhi. They sell approximately six thousand momos every day and people come from far away just to try this lip smacking dish here. “I love momos and it has been my go to dish ever since I shifted to Delhi. My cousin brother first brought me to this stall in 2010 and I have been coming here on a regular basis ever since. The steamed non-veg momos here are so tasty, if you try them, you’ll surely come back for more. I have tried momos from a lot of places in Delhi but these are just special”, said Rachit Bhatnagar, a foodie who is a regular customer of Dolma Aunty Momos. He also mentioned that he likes the dish because it satisfies his small cravings for something non-vegetarian. “Most of Indian street food lacks non-veg, which is why momos are always my go to dish. The fact that it is pocket friendly is also why I prefer it. But above all, it’s the amazing blend of meat, spices and flavours which I love”, he said.


There are festivals in the city dedicated only to momos and people travel for miles so that they can eat from their favorite food joints or get to experience the new types of momos available. Gobuzzinga momos festival is one such example. It is held in Delhi once every year and the festival is solely dedicated to momos. The event also has live performances by various artists, other food stalls and northeastern markets where people can buy the traditional herbs and spices from Northeast. The festival mainly gives momo lovers a chance to indulge in as many as 300 variants of momos from across the country and it is definitely a paradise for all the foodies out there. This also results in the rise of various new categories of momos. Traditionally, momos are steamed, but people are now experimenting with many exciting flavors and ways to serve them. From Tandoori Momos and Pan Fried Momos to healthy whole wheat varieties, there are chocolate momos and vodka momos as well! These varieties have given birth to a new market in the food industry.


One of the shops which experimented with the dish and became a huge success is Hunger Strike in Amar Colony. It was started in 2011 jointly by Siddharth Singh, Pankaj Rana and Abhishek Gujral. Hunger Strike was one of the first few restaurants which started selling Tandoori and Afghani Momos. Although these momos are expensive as compared to traditional steamed momos, the taste is definitely worth the extra cost. The dish is a perfect blend of traditional momos infused with North Indian style of cooking and spices. It didn’t take much time for the dish to gain popularity among the youth and Hunger Strike soon became a hub in Amar Colony where people came to chill and hang out with their friends. They have expanded to five more locations in Delhi and Noida. Apart from momos, Hunger Strike now serves a variety of other dishes like Noodles, Kathi Rolls, Chaap, Chicken Tikka, etc. With so much popularity, Amar Colony itself saw various other food-joints selling Tandoori Momos, some next to the already established Hunger Strike. One of these food joints is Forking, which was started by Himanshu Rakheja. It is also in Amar Colony, just next to Hunger Strike. When asked about the competition in the area, Himanshu said that even though there is a lot of competition around, other restaurants and food joints are very helpful. “We sell Tandoori Momos too but still that is not our specialty, that position still remains with hunger strike and even though we are competitors, they have been very friendly and helpful to us”, said Himanshu. Other places in Delhi which offer amazing Tandoori Momos are QD’s Restaurant in Satyaniketan, Wow Momos in Hauz Khas Village and 36 Chowringhee Lane in Satyaniketan.


Dilli Haat, which is known for bringing authentic traditional cuisines of different states, is also famous for the momos from the northeastern stalls. One of the stalls is Momo Mia, which represents Arunachal Pradesh and is the most famous momo stall there. They offer a variety of traditional steamed and fried momos which have different stuffing, varying from vegetables and paneer to chicken and pork. The current owner, Sanjay said that the stalls in Dilli Haat are given on 2 year contracts and their main motive is to promote the culture of their state through food. “You will hardly find these types of momos in other parts of Delhi. What we sell is completely authentic and it gives you a sense of our culture. We like it when more people visit our stalls and also try to understand our culture”, he said.


Momos are surely loved by many in this country, but there are people who find momos extremely unhealthy and some of these people even want them banned. In 2017, a BJP legislator from Jammu, Ramesh Arora demanded a total ban on the sale of momos because they contain monosodium glutamate which is also known as ajinomoto. He even held a protest regarding the same, saying that momos are the root cause of various life threatening diseases and more dangerous than alcohol or drugs. But, nothing was done by the government in regards to banning the dish. Thousands of people across the country showed anger against this movement on social media because of their love for momos. “I’m pretty sure that there are a lot of things to worry about in this country apart from momos. Our politicians should focus on those things rather than doing petty stuff like this”, said Rachit Bhatnagar when asked about this issue.


Overall, whatever some people might say about the dish, it has surely found a place in the heart of Delhi people. Thousands of momo stalls are put up every day on the streets of Delhi to satisfy the cravings of these people. Combined with the spicy red chutney, it gives you the perfect taste of not only the meat and vegetables, but different cultures combined together. It goes on to prove how food can also bring various cultures and people together.



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