Srinagar, Feb 4: In the vibrant culinary landscape of Kashmir, the love for food transcends from obscure alleyways to renowned eateries, with certain delectable delights gaining widespread popularity.
Among the current favourites, momos have emerged as a cherished evening snack for Kashmiris. Going beyond the traditional steamed or fried varieties, locals have infused their unique flavours into this Tibetan delicacy. The streets, food trucks, and restaurants across Kashmir now proudly feature a diverse range of momos, reflecting the region's culinary innovation
These little dumplings have become quite a sensation, offering a mix of tasty flavours. Whether it's from a roadside cart or a cosy restaurant, momos are bringing joy to the taste buds of people across Kashmir, making them a popular choice for a quick and delightful bite. The history of momos goes back to the 14th century. Initially, momos were a Newari food in the Kathmandu valley. They were later introduced to Tibet, China, and even Japan.
In Ladakh, momo is a significant dish usually made by filling dumplings with freshly chopped mutton. This dish is originally from Tibet and is also enjoyed in some parts of Nepal. While it's globally known as a Chinese dish, it's essential to note its roots in different regions. Momos have travelled a long way, enchanting people with their delicious flavours.
Hamid, a momo shop owner, said, "I've been running my shop in Hawal, Srinagar for 19 years, and I've made momos popular in Srinagar. Everyone, whether rich, middle-class, or poor, visits here. Even students who used to come in uniform back in 2005 still continue to visit after marriage because they love the taste we offer."
More people wanting Chinese food have led to more Chinese restaurants opening in Srinagar. Many places in the valley specialise in Chinese cuisine, and some have become well-known for it in the busy downtown area of Srinagar.
Mohammad Kareem, a Tibetan who lives in Eidgah Srinagar, said, "I have been running a momo shop (Kareem's momo hut) in Eidgah Srinagar for the past 38 years. I'm grateful for the steady flow of customers every day. Serving momos is what I love, and I'm happy people enjoy them," he said.
Next to his shop is Mohammad Ramzan's Momo Hut. Another Tibetan named Hafiez recently started his restaurant in a small hut on a roadside in Eidgah and is already attracting a lot of customers. Ramzan, serving Momos to a customer, says, "Our businesses are doing well even though we both serve the same type of food close to each other. Luckily, we both have a steady flow of customers every day."
The trend signifies a shift in culinary preferences, as people of all ages indulge in the joy of savouring these flavorful delights. From traditional fillings to creative variations, the momo trend in Srinagar has transformed into a culinary sensation, adding a delicious touch to the vibrant food culture of the city. Tariq Ahmad, a 55-year-old auto driver, said that nowadays, young people like eating momos. Back in our day, everyone loved the traditional Nadru Monji. This shows how food preferences have changed over time in Kashmir. Ahmad feels this change, highlighting that momos are now popular among the younger generation, while his generation had a special love for the classic Nadru Monji.
Suhail Ahmad, a 33-year-old momo food cart owner, happily shares, "Momos are the talk of the town, and it's not for my business! People love these little dumplings, and I'm excited to be serving them. It's not just food; it's a trend, and I'm enjoying every moment of rolling out momo joy for my customers."
Chinese food is now loved by many Kashmiris, even those who usually prefer local dishes like wazwan. Additionally, it has gained popularity among fitness enthusiasts because of its protein-packed recipes.
Farheen Reshi, a 25-year-old college student and frequent visitor to a popular momo place, said, "Momos are our go-to snack. They're not just delicious but also budget-friendly. It's a top pick for us students, helping us balance expenses."
In simple terms, momos seem to be catching on for many, becoming somewhat of an addiction." she added