Momos and dumplings may look like they’re close cousins, but in reality they’re quite different in characterisitics. Here’s how the two delicacies are different
They’re both delicious, soft pillowy balls of goodness and you may enjoy both Asian delicacies equally. But have you wondered about the differences between the two? Momo, while gaining recognition beyond its traditional regions, is still more closely associated with Tibetan and Nepalese cuisines. Though its global footprint is expanding and momo crawls are totally a phenomenon now, its roots are embedded in the Himalayan region.
Dumplings, however, are more accessible worldwide, be it as street food in Beijing markets, the bustling neighbourhoods of New York City, or in fine diners. While momo refers to a dish or a recipe, dumpling is a category which has many regional variations.
While jiaozi, shumai and Xiao Long Bao are Chinese dumplings, Mandu and Tteok Mandu Guk are Korean dumplings and have different taste profiles. Here are some other differences between momo and dumplings you should know about:
Cultural Origins and Heritage
Momo traces its roots to Tibetan and Nepalese cuisines. The term "momo" itself is believed to have Tibetan origins. Over time its popularity has spread across neighboring regions like Nepal, Bhutan, and Northern India. Momo has seamlessly integrated into the culinary tapestry of these areas, with each region adding its unique twist.
Dumplings, on the other hand, have a more expansive and diverse cultural footprint. Found in various forms across East Asia, South Asia, and even parts of Europe, dumplings are deeply embedded in the culinary traditions of countries like China, Japan, Korea, India, and beyond. Each culture has moulded the concept of dumplings to suit its tastes.
Momos have practically the same design across the board; they are always steamed flour dumplings with a curled or knotted opening. Though they may differ in size and may be served in many different ways (as tandoori momos, pan-fried momos or jhol momos), the basic make is always the same.
Dumplings however can look very different across countries. For instance, Japanese gyozas are thinly rolled pieces of dough, with pressed edges and a savoury minced pork filling, sui mais are open-faced dumplings which are considerably smaller.
The doughy base is perhaps the biggest point of difference between momos and dumplings. The momo dough tends to be thinner and more delicate compared to some of the heartier dumpling wrappers. It is often made from a mixture of all-purpose flour, water, and sometimes a touch of oil. The thinness allows momos to have a consistent profile of a tender exterior and a juicy, flavorful interior.
Dumpling wrappers are usually thin like those used in wontons, while some other recipes call for thicker and more substantial bases or more robust casings for heartier fillings. The composition of dumpling dough varies across cultures, incorporating ingredients such as wheat flour, rice flour, tapioca starch, or even potato starch.
Momo is predominantly steamed, although variations like fried or pan-fried momos exist. Steaming imparts a distinct texture to momos, making them soft, moist, and delectably juicy. The steaming process also allows the flavours of the filling to meld seamlessly. Dumplings are prepared using a multitude of cooking methods. Steaming, boiling, pan-frying, deep-frying, and even baking are common techniques. The choice of cooking method often depends on the type of dumpling and the cultural traditions associated with it.
Shape and Styling
Momos are typically characterized by their crescent or half-moon shape, although variations like round or cylindrical momos exist. The unique folding techniques, the pleats or pinches along the edges are often distinctive to the region. Dumplings come in a myriad of shapes and styles. From the classic crescent-shaped Chinese dumplings to the more intricate folds of Japanese gyoza or the circular perogies of Eastern Europe, the presentation of dumplings is as diverse as the culture