Food

Momos are steaming ahead

A roadside vendor named Suraj selling Momo at Kammanahalli near Jalvayu Vihar in Bangalore. Photo: Shraddha Vishwakarma  

It is served piping hot, vegetable and meat fillings inside a steamed wheat flour bun and has travelled from the frigid Tibetan plateau to emerge as one of Bangalore’s most popular street food. From the bustle of Commercial Street and Brigade Road to the quiet, leafy neighbourhoods of Fraser Town and HRBR Layout, momo stalls seemed to have come up everywhere. Selling a wide range of momos, from the usual fried and steamed ones to momos doused in chocolate and stuffed with mushroom and paneer and served with peanut and chilli sauce, momos have become everybody’s favourite on the go snack.

When Suraj from Darjeeling set up his momo stall outside the Jalvayu Vihar 15 years ago, he was the only momo vendor in the area. He now competes with more than 10 stalls, all situated on the Kamanhalli main road. “When I set up my stall, Bangalore was a smaller city,” says Suraj. “Momos were a novelty and my stall was very popular. I did not need to innovate much, since I had a loyal clientele. That has changed in the last couple of years.”

His schedule has remained the same for many years. “I go to the market at 6 in the morning, cut the vegetables and start making momos by afternoon. It is steamed and served to the customers from three in the evening. By six, I close my stall and head home.”

He adds, “People have begun to notice that selling momos is a good way to enter the food business in the city. Many of my friends have left jobs in the hospitality industry and set up momo stalls in Koramangala and Indiranagar. Momos are light on the stomach and taste great in Bangalore weather. I think that has played a vital role in its popularity. However, competition has meant that I cannot increase my prices, even as the prices of the raw materials have gone up. I find it tough to make ends meet even though business has increased considerably.”

Prakash Shekar, a regular customer at Suraj’s stall says, “I have been buying momos here for many years. Most of the newer stalls serve terrible, rubbery momos. Trust is a very important part of street food. I like the peanut sauce they serve here.”

Prakash contends, “Unlike other food, you cannot make momos at home easily. I think that is also why they are popular as street food.”

Solomon T. is a newbie in the momo business. He has set up his cart at the busy intersection of the outer ring road and Rammurty Nagar. “I worked in a restaurant for almost five years and learnt to make momos. I sell momos, tea and American corn. Momos are the most popular. I face occasional problems with the cops, but enjoy my job. More competition has ensured that the quality goes up with innovative fillings.”

Pawan Kumar, a technician at a data company is a recent convert to the momo creed. “It is not very expensive, is filling and fresh. I like it better when compared to other street food. It is also more hygienic.”

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2021 3:30:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Food/momos-are-steaming-ahead/article6560850.ece

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