For those who don’t know, momos are TIbetan/Nepali dumplings. They can be filled with either finely chopped cooked vegetables (often cabbage) or meat and can be either steamed or fried. They are usually eaten by hand, smeared in a spicy chili dip and perhaps a little salt. Delicious. As Nepali food is notoriously dull, momos are the food I missed most after my first trip to India, and I don’t think I’m alone in this sentiment.
I eat momos several times a week, but there is one momo memory that still haunts me: the thulo, or giant, momo. My memory of my first encounter with it is at once vivid and vague, blurred by the doubts of others. Sometime right at the end of my stay in Kalimpong two years ago, I went with a friend to a favorite spot of his, tucked in the below ground floor on the main road. There he, and then I, ordered what turned out to be a fucking enormous momo, as big as a large hamburger with a pastry skin more than half an inch thick.
When I move back to Sikkim some months ago, I recalled the dish being called “ti po” or “thai so” or something, but no one I asked seemed to know what I was talking about. Some recommended tee-momos, which are just wads of steamed dough, but this was not the satisfaction I sought. I googled it, to no avail. I popped into restaurants to ask for thulo momos, caressing the invisible dumpling with both hands, but all I got was empty stares.
Then this weekend I went back to Kalimpong for a two night holiday. I didn’t end up staying long, as I quickly joined a group of British gap year students that I met on the street and went back with them to where they were teaching English in the nearby village of Pedong. But before we left, we decided to get some tea. Knowing this may be my chance, I search my memories and lead the group to what I believe is the place I had dined at two years earlier. Inside I ask the proprietor if “thulo momo” was available. He nodded, and I did a mental fist pump.
It was brought out just a few second later, and it was even bigger than I remembered, or imagined. And it was very tasty. I ate it with a fork, cutting it into chunks and then spooning up the fallen veggie filling. One could, if one were daring, eat it by hand, picking it up and biting into it like a sandwich. The trick would be to keep it steady at an angle that prevents the filling from falling out.
According to the restaurant owner, the dish is called “da pow.” Arthur speculates that the cook must have studied under a renowned Chinese family in Kathmandu.
Check out the photos below PROVING once and FOR ALL to all DOUBTERS that the thulo momo truly does exist.