Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tamangs--The oldest ethnic group in Nepal?

In Nepal, there are many different ethnic groups that still hold tightly to their traditional culture and customs--distinguishing themselves from other Nepali groups. The Tamang people are amongst the most well known ethnic groups in Nepal--mainly for their exuberant dress and the fact that they are found in numerous regions throughout the country. Tamangs make up around 5.6% of the Nepali population. They are ranked 5th in Nepal in reference to population and 3rd largest amongst the ethnic groups.

Tamang people can be found in the Sindhupalchowk, Rasuwa, Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, Dhading, Makwanpur, Nuwakot, Ramechhap, Dolakha, Chitwan and Kavreplanchowk districts of Nepal, as well as India, Bhutan, and Burma. 

The Tamang people trace their heritage back to Tibet and are part of the major Tibeto-Burmese ethnic group. Tamangs are usually darker in color and have  more Mongolian features. It is said that Tamangs are a direct lineage to Mongolians--and are therefore the oldest tribe to have inhabited Nepal--and specifically Kathmandu Valley, which was then called Yambu.
Tamang, in Tibetan, means ‘horse traders’. It said that during the Nepal/Tibet War--That Tamangs were horse riding soldiers. In modern day, this group has mostly settled in the hills surrounding the Kathmandu valley. Their main practicing religion is Buddhism and they are generally farmers, labourers, and porters. They also have their own language, Tamang, of which, as of 2001, 92% of Tamangs speak fluently. They also have their own form of tribal government. In this ethnic group there are different people appointed to different tasks such as death, cultural celebrations, marriages, holy days/ceremonies, & history preservation.

Tamangs are known for their hospitality and love of music. One of the favorite instruments used by Tamangs in the Damphu Drum (Tamborine). They are also renowned for their skills in weaving incredibly warm sheep wool jackets for harsh winters, and their beautiful basket weaving--generally used for grain/vegetable storage. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Momo Mania

If you've ever been to Nepal, you'll surely be familiar with this fun little snack. Momos are Tibetan stuffed dumplings--which can be filled with chicken, buffalo, lamb, pork, veg, and even yummy fusion momos stuffed with Snickers!

If you're missing Nepal--or just want to try out a new cuisine for your next dinner party--Here's a great recipe for Non-Veg Momos--but you can always substitute the meat for potatoes and your other favorite, finely chopped, veggies.

You will need:

Dumpling Wrap:
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon oil
water, as required
1 pinch salt

2 lbs lean ground meat (50% lamb or chicken & 50% pork works best)
1 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup green onion, finely chopped
1 cup ripe tomato, finely chpped
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon curry powder, or momo masala if available
3 fresh red chilies, minced (or to taste)
3 tablespoons cooking oil
salt and pepper


  • In a large bowl combine flour, oil, salt and water.
  • Mix well, knead until the dough becomes homogeneous in texture, about 8-10 minute.
  • Cover and let stand for at least 30 minute.
  • Knead well again before making wrappers.

  • In a large bowl combine all filling ingredients.
  • Mix well, adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow all ingredients to impart their unique flavors.
  • This also improves the consistency of the filling.

  • Give the dough a final knead.
  • Prepare 1-in. dough balls.
  • Take a ball, roll between your palms to spherical shape. 
  • Dust working board with dry flour. 
  • On the board gently flatten the ball with your palm to about 2-in circle.
  • Make a few semi-flattened circles, cover with a bowl.  
  • Use a rolling pin to roll out each flattened circle into a wrapper.
For well executed MOMO's, it is essential that the middle portion of the wrapper be slightly thicker than the edges to ensure the structural integrity of dumplings during packing and steaming.
  • Hold the edges of the semi-flattened dough with one hand and with the other hand begin rolling the edges of the dough out, swirling a bit at a time.
  • Continue until the wrapper attains 3-in diameter circular shape.
  • Repeat with the remaining semi-flattened dough circles.
  • Cover with bowl to prevent from drying.
  • For packing hold wrapper on one palm, put one tablespoon of filling mixture and with the other hand bring all edges together to the center, making the pleats.
  • Pinch and twist the pleats to ensure the absolute closure of the stuffed dumpling. This holds the key to good tasting, juicy dumplings.
  • Heat up a steamer, oil the steamer rack well. This is critical because it will prevent dumplings from sticking. Arrange uncooked dumplings in the steamer.
  • Close the lid, and allow steaming until the dumplings are cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  • Take dumplings off the steamer and serve immediately.
Alternatively, you can place uncooked dumplings directly in slightly salted boiling water and cook until done, approximately 10 minutes. Be careful not to over boil the dumplings.

To serve, arrange the momos on a serving plate with hot tomato achar (pickle) or any other chutneys as condiment.

                                                          Enjoy your taste of Nepal!