Three Darjeeling (Tibetan or Nepali-Style) momos in a tomato chutney garnished with cilantro and black sesame seeds

Darjeeling (Tibetan / Nepali-Style) Vegetable Momo Recipe

These Darjeeling-style vegetable momos are filled with mildly-spiced cabbage, carrot and red onion and steam-fried until the dough is soft and pillowy, the filling is moist and the bottoms are crispy. Serve with a spicy tomato chutney or a simple soup. Homemade momos take an afternoon or two, but it’s worth the effort for a freezer full of dumplings!

What are Momos?

Momos are a style of round, half-moon or leaf-shaped dumplings believed to have originated in Tibet, influenced by Chinese dumplings. They have worked their way into the cuisines of neighboring countries in and around the Himalayan mountains - including Nepal, where they are a staple of traditional Nepalese cuisine - and Northern India, where, as in the case of Darjeeling momos, they have been adopted and adapted as popular street foods. 

Because of the mountainous geography with cold weather and high altitudes, cuisines of the Himalayan region rely heavily on livestock. So traditional Tibetan or Nepali-style momos mostly used meat fillings made with fatty cuts of yak or lamb and were initially baked in mud brick ovens. In modern times momos in the region are most commonly steamed or steam-fried and served with a tomato chutney and sometimes a simple soup or broth. 

Difference between Momos and Chinese-Style Dumplings.

Tibetan or Nepali-style Momos are believed to have been influenced by Chinese-style dumplings, but there are a few differences between the two dumpling styles:

  • Momos tend to have wrappers made from a firmer, thicker dough than Chinese-style dumplings that suits the traditional Tibetan practice of eating them with your hands, rather than with chopsticks.
  • Chinese (and Japanese) style dumplings and potstickers are often served with mild and salty soy sauce-based dips. In contrast, momos are most commonly served with thicker, often very spicy, tomato dipping sauces or chutneys that are seasoned with rich warming spices like garam masala and numbing Sichuan peppercorns. 
  • In addition to a dipping sauce, traditional Nepali momos are often served with a small bowl of simple aromatic soup or broth, sort of like a miso soup, but seasoned with a mix of warming spices like cardamom and cinnamon. Sometimes the momos are served in the broth. 

What makes a Momo a Darjeeling Momo?

Three plates of Darjeeling momos with a bowl of tomato chutney

Darjeeling is a city in West Bengal, a state of North Eastern India that is known for its amazing street food. There is a large Tibetan population there due to significant migration into India from Tibet that began in the mid 20th century. Migrants brought their momo recipes with them, but creatively adapted them to suit local tastes and ingredients that were commonly available and affordable in their new homes.

Looking for more indulgent vegetarian weekend cooking projects? Try these vegan buffalo cauliflower tacos or these sweet potato tempura maki sushi rolls. 

As a result, the momos you find at Darjeeling street food stalls are more likely to include vegetarian adaptations of traditional Tibetan or Nepali momos. Common vegetarian fillings include mixed shredded vegetables like cabbage and carrot, spinach and other greens, and cheeses like paneer.

Getting the Homemade Wrapper Dough Right

For this recipe, the dough for the wrappers starts out somewhat firm. If you are familiar with making doughs it may seem a bit too firm to work with at first - that is what it is supposed to feel like. The idea is to let the dough soften as it rests (for at least 30 minutes but ideally 3 or 4). This way the dough will be pliable enough to shape but not so soft and sticky that it is challenging to work with. 

If, after letting your dough rest, you find it is still too firm, let it rest another hour. 

If you don’t have time to let your dough rest, you might want to add a bit more water into the dough. This will make the wrappers easier to roll out right away, but the momos may be more difficult to shape.

Essential Momo Making Techniques

How to Portion the Dough for Homemade Wrappers

Wheat-flour based doughs for things like dumplings and flatbreads can be frustrating to roll out into individual rounds because the dough tends to shrink back as you try to roll them out. Allowing the dough to rest helps the dough to stay in place rather than shrink. For this reason, when I make homemade dumpling or momo wrappers, I flatten and roll the dough portions out in stages, making sure to keep the dough portions covered after each step, allowing the dough rounds to rest a bit in between steps. 

Step One:

Divide the dough into quarters. Working with one quarter of the dough at a time, roll into a long cylinder about 1” thick. You can eyeball it or use a kitchen scale to make sure the portions are roughly the same size. Then cut the cylinder into equal sized pieces - about 1” long. 

Lay a damp kitchen towel in the far corner of your work station. Take each piece and turn it on its side, so the cut side is facing up. Press down with the palm of your hand to flatten it into a round and set it aside underneath the damp towel.

Many Nepali-Style momos with crisp pan-fried bottoms sitting in tomato sesame sauce

Step Two:

Working one at a time, remove the flattened rounds from underneath the towel and, using a thin wooden rolling pin, roll into thin rounds about 3” in diameter. Return underneath the damp towel. 

Step Three:

Working one at a time and starting with the first round you rolled in step two, remove each round from underneath the towel once more and roll again into a 3 ½ to 4” round. Fill, shape and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 

How to Roll out Momo (and other Dumpling) Wrappers.

While you can use any rolling pin to make momo or dumpling wrappers, the ideal rolling pin is a thin wooden rolling pin, sometimes referred to as a Chinese rolling pin or dumpling dowel. Not only are they perfect for shaping momos, they’re also great for making pierogi, potstickers and other styles of dumplings.

Dumpling wrappers are not rolled the same as you would roll a round of, say, pie dough. Instead, to roll dumpling wrappers, you manipulate the rolling pin with one hand while turning the dough with the other. This technique allows you to quickly and easily roll out many small wrappers with slightly thicker centers and thinner edges - perfect for filling and shaping. The relatively small size of the dumpling dowels make it easier to roll with just one hand.

To roll out a dumpling wrapper: place the dough round on your workstation in front of you. With your dominant hand, push the rolling pin back and forth in quick short movements while simultaneously using your non-dominant hand to turn the dough around in quick quarter turns. Continue until the dough reaches the desired size.

How to Fold or Shape Momos

There are so many shapes you can make your momos (or other dumplings) and it’s up to you how fancy you want to get (though, if you are using square wonton wrappers, some shapes may be difficult to create). If you’re just getting started making dumplings, try a simple half-moon or pleated half-moon shape. If you’re looking for something a little more fancy, try the round shape pictured here. 

To make round momos: place a dough round in your non-dominant hand (use the thumb of this hand to press down the filling as you fold, if necessary.) With the thumb and pointer finger of your dominant hand, pinch together the edge of the wrapper and, keeping your thumb in place, use your pointer finger to pull more of the wrapper towards your thumb, pinching together to create pleats all the way around the wrapper as you use your non-dominant hand to turn and shape the dumpling from underneath. Once you have pleated all the way around, twist the pleats together, leaving an “o” shape in the top of the dumpling. 

Watch a few videos to get the idea before trying it yourself: “The Woks of Life” has a great guide to some of the easier dumpling shapes and “Souped up Recipes” has a comprehensive video of 24 different dumpling shapes, including some of the more intricate ones.

Three plates of round Tibetan momos served with tomato sesame chutney garnished with cilantro and sesame seeds

Remember, your momos don't have to be perfectly shaped. As long as they are well sealed, wonky momos taste just as delicious. Keep at it and you’ll get better the more you practice. 

Make it Easier with an Organized Workstation

Making any kind of homemade dumpling - momos, Chinese-style dumplings, potstickers or pierogies - is a lot of work, but it’s so worth it to end up with a large batch of freezer meals. Future-you will thank you for your effort. All the process really requires are a few repetitive techniques that you get better and faster at the more you do them. 

No time for homemade momos? Try these easy vegetarian main options instead: 
Crispy rice bowls with fried eggs and avocado
Scallion oil noodles 
Butternut squash fried rice 

The best way to keep the momo-making process from becoming overwhelming is to keep your workspace organized. Follow these tips to keep the batch-work of momo making as painless as possible:

  • Keep the dough covered with damp kitchen towels at all times so it does not dry out.
  • Work in batches or portions of dough, keeping the unused dough portions in a covered bowl, and the already-shaped dumplings on a parchment-lined cookie sheet in the freezer. This way you only have ¼ of the wrappers on your work-station at any given time.
  • Work with two parchment-lined cookie sheets. Leave one on your work-station to place each momo as you shape it, then transfer the shaped momos to the cookie sheet in the freezer and start again with the next portion of dough. 
  • Pop on a tv show or podcast. Once you get going, making momos is mindless work. It takes a long time, but you can always divide your attention between the momos and something a bit more interesting.
Three plates of darjeeling (nepali-style or tibetan) momos sitting on top of a spicy tomato sesame sauce

Make it Easier with Shortcuts

Divide the Work over Two Days

I never make momos or dumplings all in a single day. It’s too much work for one person. Instead, I make the filling (and the tomato chutney) on the first day, store it in the refrigerator overnight and make the dough and shape and freeze the dumplings on the second day.

Use Premade Wrappers

Most of the work involved in making momos is in preparing the dough, portioning it out and rolling the dough portions into individual momo wrappers before filling and shaping them. The biggest short-cut you can take with homemade dumplings is to use pre-made wonton wrappers instead. 

If using store-bought wrappers, which can be drier than freshly-made dough, be sure to keep them moist as you work. Cover any wrappers with a damp cloth or plastic wrap when not using and use your finger to moisten the edges of each wrapper before shaping.

Square premade wonton wrappers are most readily available in grocery stores, but opt for a round store-bought dumpling pastry, if you can find it. The square shape won’t fold into the common dumpling shapes as easily as rounds. 

Use a Pasta Maker and Cookie Cutter

Instead of cutting the dough into pieces and rolling each piece into rounds, roll your dough into thin sheets with a pasta maker and use a large 3 ½-4” cookie or biscuit cutter to cut out the wrappers. 

It’s debatable if this technique is really easier, it depends on how familiar you are with rolling out dumpling wrappers because, at a certain point, you can get really fast with it. But if you use your pasta maker a lot and it seems like this method might be easier to you, it could be worth trying just for the sense of the task being less daunting. 

Darjeeling momos with round shapes and crispy golden brown pan-fried bottoms sitting on plates with tomato chutney

Use Store-Bought Dipping Sauce

Spicy tomato chutneys are easy to make and a great way to use up a glut of fresh tomatoes from your garden, should you have one. I like to make a variation of a recipe from Santosh Shah’s Ayla cookbook to accompany my homemade momos. However, you might also be able to use store-bought.

These Darjeeling momos are steam-fried in a skillet, but if you’ve got a bamboo steamer burning a hole in your kitchen, try this weeknight-friendly Cantonese steamed fish with ginger and garlic.  

Premade momo sauces are harder to come by than, say, jarred curry pastes and sauces. But if you live in a large city, you may be able to purchase pre-made momo sauces from Nepali or Tibetan restaurants, specialty grocers or anywhere you can buy pre-made or frozen momos. 

Leftovers, Storage & Freezing

Both momos (and tomato chutneys) freeze very well. Making a large batch of momos and freezing most of them is the only way I’ll go through the effort. You don’t want to take the time to make and shape dumplings of any kind if you’ll only be making a few. 

To Store and Reheat Momos:

Its best to only cook as many momos as you are going to eat right away. But if you have any leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. To reheat while maintaining the crispy bottoms, cook in much the same way as they were originally cooked. Add the momos to a hot pan with a thin layer of oil on the bottom. Fry for 2-3 minutes, then add a few tablespoons of water to the pan, cover, lower the heat and steam till heated through. Add more water to the pan if it evaporates before the momos are heated through.

To Freeze Momos:

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and then sprinkle generously with flour. Place your momos onto the cookie sheet as you shape them and when the cookie sheet is full, transfer it to the freezer. After 30 minutes to an hour the outsides of the momos should be frozen, which will prevent them from sticking together. Transfer the momos to a freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. 

Darjeeling pan-steamed momos served with spicy chutney

To Cook Momos from Frozen:

Do not defrost your momos before cooking them, they should be cooked directly from frozen. To cook, heat a thin layer of oil into a sauté pan or cast iron skillet with a lid over medium-high heat. When the oil is ready, place your frozen momos, flat side down, onto the pan, leaving space between each momo. Fry for 2-3 minutes, then add ½-⅔ cup water to the pan, cover and lower the heat to medium-low. Frozen momos will take longer to steam than fresh, about 15-20 minutes total, depending on the thickness of your wrappers.

Darjeeling Vegetable Momo Recipe

Makes about 40 momos


For the Wrappers:

  • 500g all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ cups water 
  • Pinch of salt

For the Momos:

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 inch piece ginger, grated
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • 2 green chilis, chopped
  • 450g (about 4 cups) cabbage, finely chopped or shredded
  • 450g (about 3 ½ cups) carrot, grated 
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt 
  • ½ teaspoon Timmur or Sichuan peppercorns, crushed or coarsely ground (optional)
  • ¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped

To Serve:

  • Tomato chutney, or “momo sauce,” homemade or store-bought


  1. Make the filling: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the red onion and green chilis and sauté another 5 minutes. Add the cabbage and carrot, salt and peppercorns. Continue cooking until the vegetables have softened and reduced in volume, about 5-7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cilantro. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Set aside until ready to use or transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator overnight for filling momos the next day. 
  2. If making the wrappers, mix the dough: Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Whisk together. Add 1 cup of the water, mix, then add the remaining water, 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time, and mix until the dough comes together into a ball. Transfer onto a lightly-floured work surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until smooth but somewhat firm. Clean the bowl and return the dough. Set aside to rest, covered with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, for at least 30 minutes but ideally 3-4 hours. 
  3. Set up your momo making workstation: Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and sprinkle lightly with flour. Place one sheet on the edge of your workstation and the other in the freezer. On the opposite corner of your workstation, lay out a damp kitchen towel and your bowl of filling. Lightly flour the center of your workstation and set out: a rolling pin, measuring spoons, a regular spoon and a small bowl or ramekin filled with water. 
  4. Make the individual wrappers: Divide the dough into 4 even pieces. Working one piece at a time, use the palms of your hands to roll the dough into a log about 1” around. Cut the log into equally sized pieces about 1” wide. Each quarter of the dough should make about 10 wrappers. Turn each piece onto its cut side and use the palm of your hand to flatten into a disk. Transfer each disk underneath a damp kitchen towel at the edge of your workspace as you go.
  5. Roll out each wrapper to size: Using a small wooden rolling pin, roll each flattened disk of dough to about a 3” round (see above for rolling technique), returning each round underneath the damp towel as you work. Then, take each round, starting with the first one you rolled, and roll again into a 3 ½-4” round. Aim to have the wrapper thicker in the middle and thinner on the edges.
  6. Fill and shape the momos: working one at a time, place each dough round into the palm of your non-dominant hand. With your dominant hand, wet the edges of the wrapper and add about 1 ½ - 2 tablespoons of the filling to the center, use a spoon to press the filling down into a neat dome. Fold the momo into your desired shape and transfer onto the parchment-lined cookie sheet. When you have finished shaping all the rounds from each quarter of dough, transfer the shaped momos from the cookie sheet on your workspace to the cookie sheet in your freezer and start again with the next quarter of the dough. 
  7. Cook the momos: Momos can be cooked from either fresh or frozen. Set a saute pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add just enough oil to coat the bottom in a thin layer. When a drop of water splashed into the oil causes it to sputter, add the momos to the pan, leaving a bit of space between for them to expand. Fry for 2-3 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown, then add about ½ - ⅔ cup of hot water, depending on the size of your pan. Cover the pan and turn the heat to low. Steam for 5-7 minutes if working with fresh momos, 15-20 minutes if the momos are frozen. Remove the lid and continue cooking until any remaining water evaporates. 
  8. Serve: Remove the momos from the pan and serve them immediately. To maintain the crunchy texture of the fried bottoms, make sure to plate the momos with the fried side up, and either sit them on top of the momo sauce, or serve the momo sauce on the side. 
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