The history of Momo: An unofficial National food of Nepal

So, you go to a restaurant and stare at the 10 paged menu, and then, you’d order MOMO! There are plenty of dishes to order but you won’t miss that one thing, would you? Well, the national food of Nepal is said to be gundruk or dhedo or Dal Bhat, but deep down there we know Momo is the unofficial national food of Nepal. Who wouldn’t love these flour chunks filled with taste and flavors and served with tasty momo ko achar or jhol? That’s why this unofficial national food has gone international, thus being one of the most loved foods in the world. So, have you ever wondered about the history of Momo? How did this food become the unofficial national food of Nepal?

Well, The history of momo is still unclear. There is no exact proof of where it came from, who invented it, or how it was initially made. But, people believe that momo was inspired by the Tibetan dumplings. The Tibetan people used to make dumplings out of Yak meat, steam it and eat it as a staple food in the Himalayan region. The variation of dumplings can be seen in the world where people have their own version of dumplings with different fillings and names. Chinese dumplings are called jiaozi, Koreans call it mandu, the Japanese call it gyoza, and Nepalese call it Momo.

Momo was famous in Kathmandu Valley and amongst the Newar community. It is believed that Newar merchants adopted the Tibetan dumplings when they went to Tibet for trade and recreated the dish in the local style and thus, invented momo. The locals used to call it Momocha. ‘Ma neu’ in Newari means to eat steamed and that’s how the dish might have been named as Momocha. Momo is thus, Newari dumplings/ Nepali dumplings that were recreated in Nepal. Later, the dish became so popular all over Nepal and in the neighboring country, India.



Well, momo is little chunks of happiness. The reason why momo became so popular is the taste, affordability, availability, and flexibility. There are different varieties of momo and you can make your own version of momo. You can make momo with the fillings you like, you can adjust it with your taste bud and that’s what makes it so popular.

Initially, Newar communities used to eat momo filled with buffalo meat, known as buff momo. Most of the people do not eat buffalo meat, so they made vegetable momo for vegetarians and chicken momo for non-vegetarian. Then, people started to experiment with it and that’s what gave birth to C momo, Sadheko momo, Fried momo, Open momo, Tandoori momo, Chocolate momo, Banana momo, and so on. And the surprising part is whatever you stuff in momo, it tastes surprisingly delicious.

Another factor that made the momo popular apart from its flexibility, is that it is cheap and easily available. Either it is a fancy five-star hotel or street stalls, you can find momo everywhere and it is cheap. It used to be Rs 10 per plate and now with inflation, it has risen to Rs 60 minimum and it can be higher based on the restaurants. But as for average, it costs around 100 rupees which is cheap compared to other foods.


Well, there are so many varieties of momo. But the first momo introduced was Buff momo. Later came veg momo for vegetarians and chicken momo for those who don’t eat buffalo momo. Then, there came fried momo and chilly momo. Initially, momo used to be consumed with momo ko achar or jhol, and still, now, momo is linked with steamed momo with the momo ko achar. Then, came fried momo, sadheko momo, kothey momo, and pani momo. Momo started having variations based on the fillings and the way they are made.

So, here is the list of varieties/types of momo that are available in the market so far.

With different varieties available and more adding day by day shows the popularity of momo. Everyone has their own version of momo and has modified it accordingly. Momo has now become an integral part of the lives of Nepal and is the most loved and consumed food in Nepal. Momo is the unofficial national food of Nepal which has a special place in heart of Nepalese people.




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