Delhi boasts of being the momos capital of the country. In case you are doubting the legitimacy of this title, yes, it is a self-proclamation of being the best in business. But that’s just how we Delhites are. We never shy away from taking the credit that we deserve. You may find difficulty in finding a parking spot here, but when it comes to momos, you step out of your car and there is definitely going to be a small table with a huge steamer atop and teenage students around it, gobbling some piping hot momos.
Since the invasion of momos, our very own Chaat vendors have been on a run for their money. They are probably the new “Gol Gappe”. Because all we care about now, is not if “gol gappe ka pani” is just the right amount of spicy; but if the chili garlic momos chutney is spicy enough to want to stick our tongues onto popsicles after finishing our share. However, we foodies are loving the transition.
Momos vendors have bloomed in the city like the Terror of Bengal did in the backwaters. We have joints in the city that don’t even offer seating facilities, yet are the momo masters.. ‘Dolma Aunty’ from Lajpat Nagar and ‘Giri Momos’ from Pitampura are the Dominos of the momos world, that too by word of mouth. They serve the best in town; the simple steamed momos with the heavenly garlic chutney.
With the creativity that we have, experimenting with this food sensation was, undoubtedly, the next step. Fried momos were beginning to be liked by the people. The stuffing was being modified, ranging from paneer to soybean. Then, a major step was taken, the dish that was supposed to be dry was now being prepared in gravy. The transformation made momos a genre in itself. It was not just an appetizer in the Chinese column of the dinner menu, but a new column reading ‘Momos’ in bold was seen popping up. We loved the varieties we were being offered.
And then there are the Punjabis, who have actually given so much of love to this “firangi” snack that they have adopted it in their family and made it one of its own. No extra points for guessing, I am obviously talking about Tandoori Momos. The Tibetan people might kill themselves when they watch the dumplings they dearly love, being heated on charcoal, ‘cause that’s not quite what they gave birth to. But to us, they are the ultimate evening binge. Well, lets just say that Darwin’s theory of evolution works here too. Getting better by the day, our momos obsession was noted by the concerned, and our needs were being catered to. We started discovering pan-fried momos, pizza momos, grilled momos, kurkure momos, afghani momos, haryali momos and what not. So who cares how they were supposed to be cooked or filled with or even what they were supposed to be, momos became what we needed.
Doesn’t it actually reflect the city’s essence? Our diversity in culture has opened our arms to change. Our ability to adopt what’s not our own and yet make it ours is what we are good at. Probably, what we have done with momos is a metaphor of what Delhi does to you; welcomes you, transforms you, polishes you, makes you meet the need of the hour, but still leaves you with the essence of your own. By Kunika Valecha
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