Momos In Darjeeling: History, Types And Top 5 Spots To Visit

Nestled amidst the postcard-perfect backdrop of the Himalayas, Darjeeling in West Bengal not only captivates with its natural beauty but also draws tourists to delight in its culinary wonders. Among the diverse array of delectable dishes that the region offers, Momos stand out as an iconic street food, representing the amalgamation of flavours from further east peppered with local twists and creativity. These delicious dumplings have become an integral part of the town's gastronomic culture, offering a unique blend of taste and tradition.

The History Of Darjeeling Momos

The fascinating journey of Momos to India began with the migration of Tibetans in the wake of political turmoil during the Chinese invasion in 1959. Many Tibetans sought refuge in neighbouring countries, and they carried with them their culinary heritage to cities like Dharamshala, Sikkim, Ladakh, Darjeeling and Kolkata where they settled, including the art of making momos. In India, particularly in regions like Darjeeling with a substantial Tibetan population, their specialised cuisine including dishes like Momo, Thukpa, Chexo and Laphing found a new home and gradually evolved to cater to local preferences.

The variant we hold dear, often referred to as the Himalayan momo, is believed to have completed its journey to our plates from the Tibetan territories. Owing to the lack of arable land in the hilly areas and the chilly climatic conditions that were unsuited for cultivation, the fillings predominantly featured protein sources like Yak or minced pork. 

But as trade and immigration flourished, and the momo wound its way into the everyday menu of the Himalayan regions, there was a rise in popularity of fillings such as chicken, vegetables, and mutton mince and later to vegetarian versions when they moved further into mainstream Indian cuisine. And for better or worse the evolution doesn't stop there; the momo has even ventured into the realm of unexpected delights, with fillings ranging from indulgent chocolate to gooey cheese. Today, the momo stands as a testament to culinary fusion, showcasing how a traditional dish can transcend cultural boundaries and become a beloved treat for all kinds of palates.

Types of Momos in Darjeeling

Darjeeling's momo culture has diversified over the years, giving rise to an array of variations beyond the traditional steamed dumplings. Some common types include:

1. Steamed Momo:

If you think momo, it’s probably this one you’re imagining. These delicate dumplings are made by wrapping a meat or vegetable filling within a thin layer of dough, usually made from flour and water. The dumplings are then arranged on a steaming rack and cooked through a gentle application of steam. The result is a tender, translucent wrapper that envelops the succulent filling. 

2. Fried Momo:

The Fried Momo stands in stark contrast to its steamed counterpart, and it offers a delightful textural twist. These momos are pan-fried or deep-fried until they acquire a crispy and golden exterior, while the inside remains juicy. The frying process introduces a delicious crunch that complements the soft filling

3. Kothay Momo:

The Kothay Momo gives you the very best of both worlds. They are typically prepared by arranging the dumplings on a steamer and allowing them to cook through the steam slightly and then lightly fried. The result is a soft steamed centre and a slightly crispy outside. These momos are often served with a tomato chutney that complements their flavours perfectly.

4. Jhol Momo:

For the cold Darjeeling days, there’s nothing better than the Jhol Momo. This version involves momos served in mildly spiced broth or soup. The key to jhol momo's appeal lies in its hearty broth, usually made from a blend of aromatic spices, herbs, and sometimes tomato-based sauces. Jhol momo is most appreciated during colder months, as it provides both nourishment and warmth.

5. Sadeko Momo:

Sadeko Momo stands out as a unique melange of flavours, combining the traditional Nepali momo with an Indian love for big flavours. Sadeko momos are fried or pan-seared to achieve a crispy and slightly crunchy exterior. Once cooked, they are tossed in a blend of Nepali spices, herbs, and sometimes a zesty sauce. This technique results in a little flavour bomb that captures the flavours of cross-cultural cuisine. 

How To Make Darjeeling-Style Momos


For the filling:

  • 200 gms Boiled Chicken Keema
  • 200-250 gms Cabbage: Finely Shredded
  • ¼ cup Spring Onion Chives
  • 2 tbsps Fresh Coriander Leaves: Finely Chopped
  • ½ tbsp Garlic: Minced
  • ½ tbsp Ginger: Minced
  • 1 tsp Soy Sauce 
  • Black Peppercorns: Freshly Cracked
  • 1 Medium-Sized Onion: Finely Chopped
  • ½ tbsp Any Neutral Vegetable Oil
  • 1-2 Green Chillies
  • Salt to taste

For the Dough:

  • 2 cups Maida/All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • Water as needed
  • Salt to taste


  • Begin by combining all the specified dough ingredients in a mixing bowl. Knead the mixture until you have a firm, yet pliable dough. Cover the dough and set it aside for a rest of about 30 minutes.
  • In a mixing bowl, mix all the mentioned ingredients for the chicken filling. Next, blend the boiled chicken keema in a blender to a rough consistency. Add the coarsely blended chicken keema back into the mixing bowl along with the other ingredients. This will ensure a delightful texture in each bite.
  • Prepare your Momo/Dim Sum steamer. Grease it with oil and line it with cabbage leaves or parchment paper to prevent sticking.
  • After giving the dough another brief knead on your work surface, divide it into portions. Roll each portion into a 2-3 cm diameter circle. Place a portion of the filling mixture in the centre and shape the dumplings in your preferred style.
  • As you work on the dumplings one by one, keep the remaining dough portions covered with a damp cloth. Once all are ready, arrange them in the steamer. If you're using a bamboo steamer like mine, place it over a pot of simmering water with a stand. Cover it and allow the water to come to a rolling boil.
  • If your steamer doesn't have its own lid, cover the pot it's placed on with a lid. Steam the dim sum for 15-20 minutes over low-medium heat.
  • Once they are cooked through, transfer the dim sum to a serving plate. Serve these delicious treats with your favourite homemade chutney or sauce. Enjoy!

The Top 5 Places For Momos In Darjeeling

1. Kunga Eatery

Operated by a Tibetan family, Kunga is a haven for momo enthusiasts and draws both tourists and locals alike. With two decades of steady service, it offers Tibetan and Chinese delights and of course, momos that are to die for. Enjoy Soupy Noodle Momos, Chili Chicken, and Chow Mein, the most loved dishes. 

2. Dekevas Delight

Satisfy all your meat cravings at Dekevas. This family-run spot near Kunga, is a part of Hotel Dekeling, and it excels in Chinese, Continental, and Tibetan fare. Locals claim it serves the city's finest non-veg momos. A treat indeed.

3. Stimulating Bites

Discover Hot Stimulating Cafe, a small gem in the city. Often overlooked, but a regret if missed! A vegetarian paradise, run by local Lilly, it offers the best veg momos. Great value, ambience, and flavours await. 

4. Ninaji Classic

Ninaji or Nini ko Dokan is so renowned as the oldest Darjeeling momo shop, that they don’t even have a sign. Despite changing hands over their 100-year history, the momo quality remains. Darjeeling, famed for its heritage railway and tea gardens, offers this taste of Tibet through its settled refugee population. Come for the story, stay for the momos. 

5. Nawangs Restaurant

Another family-run affair, this spot in Chauk bazaar is a great choice for good old authentic thukpa, tingmo and naturally, you can’t miss the momos. A local favourite they specialise in regional dishes and flavours that impart a comforting homemade atmosphere to your meal.

The Global Appeal Of Darjeeling Momos

Beyond the town's borders, Indian restaurants offer their own interpretations of momos, making them a popular item on menus across the country. The appeal of these dumplings lies in their versatility, catering to various tastes and preferences. What started as a regional delight has transcended geographical boundaries to gain global recognition and now, tourists from around the world flock to Darjeeling to savour the authentic taste of momos.