Niniaji- The 100-Year-Old Momo Shop In Darjeeling
Image Credit: Niniaji shop/ Darjeeling

One of the most hot selling dish of Darjeeling happens to be momo’s, Be it a road side stall or even a restaurant most sell some of the best hot pipping Momo’s with the special red hot chutney. The hunt for momo is mostly seen in by-lanes which are not much visited. 

One such shop is Ninaji or fondly called Nini ko Dokan which happens to be the oldest momo shop in Darjeeling. The shop has changed hands but there has been no complaints regarding the quality of momo’s which have remained constant over the years.  Darjeeling which is referred to as Queen of hills and is famous for its UNESCO World Heritage certified Darjeeling Himalayan Railway or Toy train and the tea gardens, this town also gives you a great view of four of the five highest mountains peaks in the world. This hilly town sees a many the Tibetan refugee population too, and most them settled here gave the tourist a taste of their cuisine. 

And Ninaji momo shop is one such shop in this town that is still ownded by Tibetan refugee family. Neeni Aji Ko Dokan (Neeni sister’s shop) that is situated near Darjeeling Motor Stand and mostly ignored by tourists happens to selling the best momo is Darjeeling and this place even the local’s and Darjeeling resident swear by. Situated on the ground floor of Rai Building, at the heart of the town, this momo shop is always flanked by locals. This eating joint is so famous amongst the locals is that the owner doesn’t even bother about the sign board, also a reason why most might miss this small, hidden place. Not at all a swanky joint this pace will surprise you with your quality of food. The taste of the momo’s are the only reasons why everyone comes back here. And you wont believe that the place sees a limited menu consisting of just two dishes: Beef Momo and Beef Thukpa.

This summer retreat of the British’s, sees many places that sell fast food like momo and other Tibetan fares like thukpa, shay phalay and tingmo and more. Anyone visiting Darjeeling their momo search ends once they find Niniaji’s momo shop. This shop is no fancy frills. If you look at the kitchen, it’s dark and also sees stains that have been accumulated over the years of cooking.  The eatery still uses the age old technique that was used by Niniaji, the owner of the shop, since its inception. Also happens one of the places where they still sell beef dumplings. The momo’s/ dumpling is cooked in woodfire. 

Dot go by the look of the place as it is still flocked by who’s who of the town. The current owner of the place Tashi Gaylpo till date happily serves al the diners who come to taste some of the authentic Tibetan delicacy that is in town. He joined hands with his sister-in-law Mingma lamu, and then bought Niniaji’s momo shop in 1985. And it was very sweet of Niniaji’s family to guide them to take over the place and even teach them the technique also sharing her momo recipe. 

Each morning the dough is freshly prepared, along with the filling filling minced beef and onion and then the dumplings are then steamed in homemade steaming vessels on a wood fire. The Gaylpo family are also the staff of the place and customers start by as early as 10:30 am. This shop is surely is a living heritage in this small town.