Category Archives: Snacks

Chicken Steamed Momo : Steamed Dumplings with Chilli-Garlic Chutney from Nepal

Image Today we get frisky, you and I. We role play. Ok? Me plays iconoclast, my cleaver held firmly in my hand. You be Watson. You watch. You record. Yeah, you can go ahead and choose the music too. They are going to call it the “Jalebi Massacre”. I hope they do.  For I am about to destroy a few images. Sounds rad, does it not?

(Strike one. Yipee!). This post should have been titled “Chicken Steamed Momo: Steamed Dumplings with Chilli-Garlic Chutney from Nepal/Tibet/and the many street corners, cafes, community markets of Delhi NCR” Why haven’t I done that, you ask? Because I have APA style sheet drilled into my brain (“title should be concise”). I was showing off with that APA reference, I concede. Its my way of reminding people (not you, beautiful stranger in pyjamas, its for the people who call me by my name, know my name) that a food blog does not a housewife make.  Especially, when no one has “put a ring on it“. So, love, if you want me to offer something other than sparkling tap water when you come visiting, you can stop the housewife reference right about now. Thank you.  WHossh! ChopChopChop! MinceMinceMince! 

Done. And Dusted.

I have lived in this city more than I have in any other, I have lived in all sorts of neighborhoods too. And I  think its time to do the little favour to Delhi’s street food that Dibakar Banerjee’s film did for the cityscape of Delhi in Bollywood films.  By moving the lens beyond the Red Fort, DB had us watching us. We, our middle-class neighborhoods , the ones further away from Delhi-6, the ones you and me live in. The ones we sometimes wish to run away from.While Street food in Delhi has extensively been written, talked about, filmed, researched, “but, Dude”,  the accounts of Paranthe Wali Gali, of the Chaats of Chandni Chowk, the Samosas and Jalebis  of of settlement colonies, the Cholle Bhature dukans of Rajouri and Karol Bagh are not “the be all and end all of dilli ka khana. What is infact dilli ka khana? Yaar, hum thodi na pura pura time samosa, chaat aur kabab khatte hain?

So then. Now lets have some fun. Give in to our innate, darkest desires of destruction and break assembly-line Bollywood symbols. Heck, crush those too orange jalebi pictures that Hollywood peddles to you and me in the name of our culture. Lets break a few pictures while we are at it. And a few plates too. Gosh! That feels good, does it not? Now for the truth telling.

Momo is as popular (and as common)as the samosa in the streets of Delhi. Momo is a legitimate saddi dilli street food. Nukkad Nukkad main mille hai momo. Galli galli main mille momo. Aao khao, aur khilao! Momo!

(Yes! Open your eyes and see. And report what you see. Make some new symbols.Give us some new images. And in the next film make Ranbir Kapoor eat paneer momo from the neighbourhood thela.)

But unlike the samosa its not just  a street food. True, the stalls with tall aluminium steaming racks that take over street corners are the most common.But they started trickling in, being part of Delhi’s urban geography only about half a decade ago. Momo is also a popular appetizer in the rather dodgy we-serve-everything “multicuisine”  restaurants, and finds it way to respectable neighborhood Chinese establishments as well many odd cafes frequented by the hip and happenin’. The latter ones over-charge you, of course, of course. So yes, the “mango people in the banana republic” know about the Momo as much as the person who prefers her Momos with a glass of White (true story!)

This recipe makes for translucent, melt in the mouth momos. The chikcen stock as the steam liquid does wonderful things to it, flavoring the soft, paper thin covering just so. You can add other aromatics too. I had some coriander stems lying around, so I dropped it into the steaming liquid. After the momos are cooked the possibilities are limitless, actually. Convert them into kothey, drop them in soup, its an open field.

 Ingredients 

White flour-1 cup

Hot water- as necessary

Minced chicken-150 gms

Ginger-1 inch

Garlic-1

whole Coriander leaves-1 bunch

Onion-1

Dry Red Chillies- one handful

Vinegar-1 tablespoon

Oil-2 tablespoons

Salt

Water or Chicken stock to steam

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Guguni : Yellow Peas

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Train journeys were an integral part of my growing up years.  Since my father was transferred to a new place every couple of years on account of his job, and both his and my mother’s parents lived in Cuttack, we traveled very frequently to meet them.  One such place was Balasore, situated in the northern part of the state, sharing its borders with West Bengal. We lived there for around three years and both me and my sister started our school there. Balasore was connected to Cuttack by the East Coast Railways and it took approximately three hours to reach Cuttack from there. We usually took a train around noon (I think), and were at Cuttack by late afternoon. Now, if you have traveled around India courtesy the Indian Railways as much as I have, you would definitely have a culinary map of all the routes you have traveled on. My four year old sister already knew the various stations and the food one could expect to find there. If you are travelling  around coastal Orissa, one quick snack that you will definitely encounter on the train is masala mudhi (a spicy puffed rice mixture). This was the first thing our parents bought for us, thanks to my sister. The next thing on her list used to be guguni (mushy yellow peas). These were available only at Bhadrak, where the train halted for no more than five minutes. My father would get down quickly and be back with two servings of guguni. These came in bowls made of dried leaves, stiched together, and were called daana. Each bowl was topped with a thin slice of fresh coconut, and came with a disposable wooden spoon. We even knew the guy who sold the best guguni by name and didn’t buy it from anyone other than him! So on days when we didn’t find him, or when his wares were sold out, my parents promised my crestfallen sister a treat on our way back.

Guguni is used in a number of ways in Orissa. It is used as an accompaniment to most tea time snacks, like Piaji, Bara, and Alu Chop. It is also an integral part of the quintessential Cuttacki snack called Dahi-Bara-Alu-Dam-Guguni (DBADG).  A whole maidan in front of Barbati stadium is filled with carts selling just this! But this is not the best place to go searching for a fill of this massively popular street food, if you ask me. The really good ones have their carts in specific sahis and are known only to locals. DBADG is assembled on the spot for customers. First the dahi baras (urad dal dumplings soaked in buttermilk) are placed at the bottom of the leaf bowl. This is followed by a helping of alu-dam (spicy potatoes in a gravy) and guguni (yellow peas). The vendor then drizzles some yogurt, adds some chopped onions, and finally sprinkles some very fine sev on top before handing you a (by now)  very heavy bowl of DBADG. The dahi baras, that are used for these are unlike the dahi vada that you find else where. They are really small, usually the size of a Piaji (that I had made before). They are first soaked in water and then soaked in a very thin yogurt mixture. Most vendors selling DBADG also add a mitha dahi bara to every bowl.

In Bhubaneswar there aren’t many places that sell DBADG. But what you find is Guguni being sold as a snack in itself. So around 4 pm you’ll find men setting up temporary stalls selling this. The stalls really comprise of two stools, the smaller one balancing a huge vat of Guguni, and the other used by the vendor to sit.  These are sold very cheap, around two rupees a bowl. The vendor spoons some of the mixture in a leaf bowl, sprinkles some black salt, and then drizzles some tamarind water (out of an old bottle of coconut hair oil) on top.

The Guguni that is sold on the street is different from the one that is made at home (which is usually served for breakfast with puris). For one, it tends to be more spicy. Also, it is kept really simple, because it is used more like an accompaniment. The one that is made at home is more of a curry, cooked with tomatoes and onions (and a host of other things). I prefer the street version. Even though the recipe that I have used below is based entirely on what my taste buds thought they could detect, these do taste like the real thing!

Ingredients:

Dried yellow peas

Ginger

Turmeric

Cinnamon 

Dried Red Chilli

Cumin seeds

Black peppercorns 

Salt

Black Salt

Piaji : Dal fritters from Orissa

My sister’s eyes used to light up when my father proposed something takaliya .  She would beam at my father, put on her shoes, and shout back to my mother “Bhai sangere jauchi. Khaiki asibi” (I am going out with bhai. Will eat out). She called my father bhai (big brother) instead of the baapa (oriya for father) like yours truly did. She always had a mind of her own. That kid surely did.  I always pictured them as a part of some secret fraternity, a brotherhood, hanging out together, doing cool things, two buddies walking into the sunset together. I don’t remember what I did while they were away busting gangs, but what I remember is them coming back, my sister more chirpy than she had left, usually with the spoils of the war-a newspaper packet. A hot newspaper packet, speckled with oil.  “Jaldi kholo! Ebe baharila kareiru! Jaldi kholo thanda heijiba” (Quick! Open this! These just came out of the frying pan. Open the packet quickly or these will get cold).  Inside would be all sorts of fried goodness (everything tastes good when fried, remember?), dusted with black salt. I would pick  one up, take a bite, take two bites and reach for more, all the while making stories about two great buddies, one considerably shorter than the other with her hair bunched up in the front, almost resembling a whale spout.

I don’t know how to translate takaliya into English.  I don’t even know if its an Oriya word, even though it was used often in our household (parents are constantly making up things, so one never knows). Savoury is too overarching a category, and sounds particularly insipid when it is used to describe food that is supposed to make your mouth water.

Piaji, Pakudi, Bara, Alu chop are some the favourite tea time snacks in Cuttack, where my father was born and brought up, and where both me and my sister were born. It is known for its street food (or so my father claims. He claims quite a lot of things for this beloved city of his, by the way). Being an old town, unlike Bhubaneswar, it has a rather amorphous urban topography. The city is made of sahis (plural) that are usually made up of a single street with houses on either side.  Sahis are mini localities in themselves and people have very strong social (and emotional) attachments with their own sahis.  Every sahi (neighbourhood) has a shop that specializes in these and you will find a horde of people outside these shops since the moment it opens, usually just in time for tea.  Most of them have walls made of wooden planks and a tin roof, and are very small square structures.  These shops are usually manned by two men, the older one doing the frying and the younger one packing  things for the waiting masses. The frying goes on till the supplies last, which is generally till dinner time. By 8 pm most of these shops close and the men manning them start for their long walk home.

Piaji is a onion and dal fritter. Even though it is usually served as a snack at tea time, it is sometimes served as a part of the lunch as well. A typical Oriya lunch has at least five accompaniments-dal, a side of vegetables, bhaja, bharta, and khata. Bhaja is a vegetable stir fry, seasoned with salt and turmeric, and some cumin at times. These fritters are sometimes served in the place of bhaja or even in addition to it. When guests arrived unannounced at our home during lunch, my mother’s way of “jazzing” up the lunch plate was to quickly slice some brinjals or potola (parwal or pointed gourd, dip them in a mixture of besan (chickpea batter) and deep fry them.  These fritters are also crumbled into a favourite Oriya snack-masala mudhi (a spicy mix of puffed rice, onions, chillies, and a host of other things, brought together by a drizzle of raw mustard oil and a dash of lemon juice).

Ingredients

Channa Dal- 1 cup

Onion (finely chopped)-2, medium

Dry Red Chillies-3

Green Chillies-4-5

Ginger-1 inch piece

Garlic- 1 large clove

Salt- to taste

Oil- for frying

Black salt

Tap on the first picture for a step by step demonstration.