Although the momo has its origins in Tibet, where it's considered to be an unofficial national dish, it has crossed the border into India and become a sought-after street food. When Tibetan refugees came to India in the 1960s, they settled in various areas in northern India and brought their culture with them. This included the delicious momos that India has gone mad over and adopted (often molding them to suit local tastes). The best momos in India can be found where Tibetan settlements are located, particularly in and around places such as the Northeast Indian states, Darjeeling and Kalimpong in West Bengal, Dharamsala and McLeod Ganj in Himachal Pradesh, and Leh in Ladakh. Momos are also everywhere in Kolkata and Delhi.
Chicken and Cheese Momos at Kunga Restaurant, Darjeeling
One of Darjeeling's most popular restaurants, cozy Kunga's specializes in Tibetan cuisine. They serve all kinds of momos — both steamed and fried — but the chicken and cheese momos are something special. It's not a conventional combination but it's surprisingly good. For a hearty meal, order the steamed momos in hot noodle soup.
- Address: Chauk Bazaar, 51 Gandhi Road (near Dekeling Hotel and opposite the giant clock), Darjeeling, West Bengal.
- Opening Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Vegetable Momos at Hot Stimulating Cafe, Darjeeling
Only vegetarian food is served at the Hot Stimulating Cafe because, according to the smiling owner, it's healthier and easier to digest. Hence, you can expect to find some of the best vegetable momos in India there. Be careful of the chili sauce though, it's fiery! Devour the momos with some tumba (millet and wheat beer) while looking out over the valley and town. The cafe, which is not much more than a tin shack, is evocatively perched on the side of a steep hill and surrounded by greenery. Want to learn how to make momos? Informal cooking lessons are provided.
- Address: Hooker Street, Darjeeling, West Bengal. It's on the way to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute.
- Opening Hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Prepare to salivate, as Shuffle Momos offers some of the most mouthwatering momos you'll ever come across. It's guaranteed you'll want to eat them over and over again. These gourmet momos come in 16 varieties — seven vegetarian and nine with meat. Each is prepared with fresh, organic ingredients from Tumlong in North Sikkim. You can also opt to have your momos made out of rice flour. Shuffle Momos opened in 2016 and was inspired by the lack of quality vegetarian momos in Gangtok. Their motto: make the best momos possible and then make continuous improvements. The vegetarian fillings are undoubtedly innovative and include mushroom, potato and cheese, paneer (Indian cottage cheese), and spinach. While beef is shunned in most parts of India, it's not the case in Sikkim. Simple beef momos are on the menu, along with the Tibetan delicacy known as shogo shabril (sauteed beef encased in a layer of crispy fried mashed potato). Are you a keen carnivore? Try the mixed meat momos! Do note, it's not possible to dine in but outdoor seating is provided in the takeaway zone.
- Address: NH10, Deorali Bazaar, Nam Nang Junction, Gangok, Sikkim.
- Opening Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Closed Tuesdays.
- Phone: 03592-280180 for free delivery all over Gangtok.
Darjeeling natives Reevu Wangdi and his friend Pravakar Yonzone have taken Kolkata by storm with their authentic momos with a twist. They founded their first outlet of Momo I Am, decorated with funky graffiti on the walls, in 2012. It was such a hit that they've gone on to open three more. The newest and largest one is in Gol Park, near Dakshinapan Shopping Center in south Kolkata's shopping district. All the usual steamed and fried momos are available, and it's possible to order a momo platter with a mixture of the different varieties. However, the star attraction is momos stir fried with vegetables in special sauces. Had a big night out? Go for the Hangover Spicy Momos. Some of the momos at Momo I Am also have fusion fillings, such as chili chicken and basil.
- Address: 3 Ballygunge Gardens, Gariahat, Golpark, Kolkata.
- Opening Hours: Noon to 11 p.m.
Momos from Northeast India at Dilli Haat, Delhi
Can't make it all the way to remote Northeast India for momos? Don't worry because the food stalls at the Dilli Haat food court serve up tasty ones that are the real deal (along with the spicy chutneys). You may not expect it, but this food court is one of the best places to get momos in Delhi. What's more, Dilli Haat a fantastic place to shop for handicrafts. It's been set up by the government to give the feel of a traditional weekly village market. You'll find half a dozen food stalls representing the Northeast there but Nagaland's Kitchen and Momo Mia (from Arunachal Pradesh) stand out. The pork momos are a foodie favorite. Fruit beer is available as well.
- Address: Opposite INA Metro Station (Yellow Line), south Delhi.
- Opening Hours: Noon to 10 p.m.
Tandoori cuisine is particularly popular in northern India, where it's a specialty of the region. Therefore, it shouldn't be surprising that even momos are now being cooked in the tandoor! QD's Restaurant is frequently credited with coming up with the idea. Chicken and vegetable tandoori momos served with garlic sauce are their signature dish — and these smoky tasting dumplings are a lot bigger than the usual size. Wash them down with fruit beer. Currently, there are four branches of bright and ambient QD's Restaurant located in north, south and east Delhi. However, look out for many more, as the owners recently secured capital funding for expansion.
- Address: 294 Satyaniketan Market, near Venkateshwara College, Satyaniketan, Delhi (south campus of Delhi University). 2520, 1st Floor, Hudson Lane, Kingsway Camp, GTB Nagar, Delhi (north campus of Delhi University). 2nd Floor, Moments Mall, Kirti Nagar, Delhi. A-47, Guru Nanakpura, near Nirman Vihar Metro Station, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi.
- Opening Hours: 11.30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Whole Wheat Momos at JJI Exile Brothers Mama’s Kitchen, McLeod Ganj
Don't be discouraged by the simple appearance of this small restaurant, which as its name suggests is more like a kitchen (there are only five tables). It has a lot of soul and the food is seriously good. The potato momos, made with mashed potato spiced with turmeric, are quite famous. Rarer spinach momos are available too. In addition, Mama’s Kitchen is the only place in the area where it's possible to get momos made with whole wheat flour. As well as fresh homemade Tibetan food, the restaurant promises the best music in town. The owner's sons are members of rock band JJI Exile Brothers, and they perform live there once a week.
- Address: Bhagsu Road, Mcleod Ganj, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh.
- Opening Hours: 8.30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Yeti The Himalayan Kitchen features a melange of intriguing Tibetan, Nepali, Bhutanese and Northeast Indian dishes. Cant make up your mind if you want steamed or fried momos? The Yeti special "kothe" styled momos are cooked both ways, first steamed and then fried on one side in a pan, as done traditionally in Tibet. They're huge and succulent. Want to try something different? The Newari Momo Cha from Kathmandu won't disappoint. These small momos are served in sesame-peanut sauce. The aloo (potato) momos are another chef's specialty. According to the owners, momos account for around 20% of sales, which is significant as the menu is quite extensive. In line with its two classy locations, the interiors of Yeti The Himalayan Kitchen are cool and contemporary but not without classic touches such as mandalas, Tibetan prayer wheels and flags.
- Address: 30 Hauz Khas Village (next to Raasta). M-20, M Block Market, Greater Kailash 2, Delhi.
- Opening Hours: Noon to 12 a.m.
Seafood Momos at Chimney Sizzlers, Delhi
Momo fillings of chicken, pork, mutton and vegetables are common. However, it's rare to get fish and prawn momos. If you do like seafood, Chimney Sizzlers is a must-visit for these momos. Visually, it's an uninspiring looking restaurant, situated in a long line of similar Tibetan and Chinese establishments in Yashwant Place Shopping Complex. The food more than compensates though! Don't confuse it with the much smaller Chimney restaurant nearby. You won't get seafood momos there.
- Address: Shop 10 and 16, Yashwant Place, Chanakyapuri, Delhi.
- Opening Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight.
Deep Fried Mutton Momos at Summer Harvest, Leh
Tucked away just off Fort Road, a short distance from the main market, Summer Harvest is frequented by locals and tourists alike. The restaurant is renowned for its deep fried mutton momos. The minced mutton is wonderfully spiced. Do note that mutton is goat meat in India, not sheep, though. Summer Havest describes itself as a Tibetan restaurant but their Indian dishes are decent too.
- Address: Fort Road, Leh, Ladakh.
- Opening Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.