25 September 2014

GUEST POST: Nepal you want

By guest blogger CORIN BELL

Cracking Good Food started an exciting new chapter on Saturday with the first of our new programme of Nepalese cookery courses… Momo Making! Momos are traditional Nepalese dumplings, and are a staple of Nepalese street food. Our wonderful chef, Philippa, who lived in Nepal for a number of years, explained that you can find momos, steamed or fried, meat or veggie, on every street corner in Nepal. To add to the authentic Nepalese street food vibe, the session also included making a classic spicy tomato pickle to serve with the momo, and Thenthuk, a spicy broth filled with chunks of vegetable and “hand pulled” noodles. 

The session began with a traditional Nepali tea, prepared by Philippa, which had an amazing fragrance of spices, similar to Indian chai. While we drink our tea, Philippa explained a little about how she ended up living in Nepal, and told us about the origins of the food that we would be cooking. The hands-on cooking started with us making dough for the dumplings (in this case the dough is called the wrapper) and the noodles. As it's the same mix, this is one of the reasons you tend to find these dishes together on a Nepalese street stall. 

The next job was to prepare the fillings for our momo and our soup, which involved some serious chopping skills as the vegetables for the momo filling have to be chopped incredibly finely to ensure a good mixture of filling in each small dumpling. Philippa and the Cracking Good Food team were on hand to demonstrate some good techniques. The ingredients for the momo filling are simple and fresh, and the kitchen soon filled with amazing smells. At the same time we started to get our soup on the boil. The Thenthuk broth is something that has evolved over time and contains Tibetan, as well as Indian, influences. A wonderful mix of spices and herbs brings simple vegetables to life. 

Assembling our momo dumplings was the fun part, along with learning the age-old technique for stretching our “hand-pulled” noodles. This is where nimble fingers, or just lots of time to try and try again, come in handy. Philippa demonstrated how to fold the rolled-out dumpling “wrappers” around the filling to create a beautiful little work of food art. Great fun, some mocking, and a little confusion follow. Slowly but surely, with some one-to-one support from Philippa, we all start to have our momo “eureka!” moments. It has to be said, the first time you actually manage to make a momo that looks anything like one of Philippa’s is a very proud moment! After the momos, the hand-pulled noodles are not nearly as much of a challenge. 

We decided to make steamed dumplings rather than fried and, along with the very low-fat, spice-packed noodle soup, the whole session was really healthy! The spicy tomato pickle was the easiest, and one of the tastiest, things I’ve ever made, and will now be accompanying every meal I eat! And just to really finish off the day, Philippa offered everyone a quick lesson in the Nepalese alphabet and a spice bag with their name written in Nepali on it. 

There are more photos from this session on the Cracking Good Food Facebook page. Click here to be redirected.

Philippa is back at the Cracking Good Food Chorlton cookery school on Saturday 4 October (sold out) and Saturday 7 February, showing how to make Dal Bhat, delicious Nepalese curries. See our website for details and how to book.

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