tsampa, momo, lephing and more!
Amdowas have a strong penchant for this dark green, pungent, garlicky, edible plant species that we know as “Chu-tse” – the common term being “garlic chives”. For me “chu-tse” synonyms with – “deliciousness,” “decadence,” “indulgence,” – quite easy to get me salivating. Chu-tse momos and shabaleys are high on our list of our favorite eats.
Growing up in Dharamsala, we always had chu-tse growing in my parent’s vegetable garden – abundantly. We always had plenty to eat and plenty to share. I remember a long list of Amdowa friends awaiting their weekend chu-tse delivery turn. In mid-late summer, the chives will start blooming white flowers – the long stalks with white flower buds, stir fried with tofu or shredded meat, make a beautiful and delicious side dish too.
Later, when I moved to southern India, I kept a couple of pots of chives on the balcony of our apartment building – courtesy a dear monk friend at Gomang Monastery in Hunsur. In south India, the chives grow year round. Every few weeks, I would snip the chive leaves short to about 1-2 inches giving me enough for a meal of fresh chu-tse momos. And they keep growing back – kind of like your lawn grass but better because you can eat them. Chives are perennial plants – in warmer regions, they stay green year round and in colder regions, they die off when winter sets in and re-sprout in the spring.
Now, living in Virginia, I’ve tried growing chu-tse in my little vegetable patch but I haven’t had much luck with it so far. My neighbour had some growing in her yard and she passed them on to me as she didn’t know what to do with them. They grew well the first year but tasted very bland. A friend told me that I need to use animal manure based fertilizer – but I was unsure. So I got rid of that batch and tried growing some from seed this year. But they didn’t turn out very well. So, I am back to square one for next year – still not quite ready to give up on it yet.
But luckily, I do live in an area where we have an abundance of asian groceries and chu-tse is available fresh year round. But I should issue a little warning here … chu-tse’s pungent and strong flavors may not be a taste for everybody’s palate. Still, I happily share it with you here:
Note: The bright green tube shaped chives that you find in regular American supermarkets is not the same as “garlic chives” that we use. These develop pink flowers and are used more as a herb – the flavor & texture is not the same. The asian chives are flat leaved and develop white flowers.
Chu-tse Momo Recipe:
Follow the general format for momo recipe posted here https://simplytibetan.com/2013/02/24/momo/ – the difference is only in the filling.
4 cups flour
1 to 1 1/2 cup water (Approximate)
Put the flour in a large bowl, make a well in the center. Slowly add the water, and start mixing it with the flour – use just enough water for the dough to hold. Then knead until it is firm but supple. The more you knead the better the dough.
Ingredients for Chutse Momo Filling
1 lb Minced meat
1 lb Garlic Chives
2 Tablespoon Oil
2 Tablespoon Soya Sauce
½ teaspoon ground Emma
¼ cup Water
Salt to taste
Rinse and clean the chive leaves thoroughly. And slice the chives into small pieces … about ¼ inche length.
In a large bowl, add the mince meat, chopped chives and rest of the ingredients. As you start mixing the ingredients, the chives will wilt making it easier to handle. Add a little extra water if needed. (A friend of mine – a former labrang monk, says the cooks at Labrang monastery always yell at the kitchen helpers – “Be generous with oil and water otherwise we won’t have juicy momos !”)
3. Prepare the momo skin
Divide the dough into manageable portions. Shape one portion into a long roll and start pinching of small portions, a little smaller than a golf ball from one end. Shape each portion, rolling them in both your palms into a ball. Then flatten each ball with the palm of you hand and using a small rolling pin, shape them into approximately 3″-31/2” round flat round circle. This is your momo skin.
Take one piece of momo skin, add a teaspoon of the filling and then shape your momos, starting from one end and slowly pinching, wrapping to the other end. Try not to not overlap the skin too much so that you don’t end up with a thick layer of folded dough on the top. This part takes some practice. For the novice – a little less filling makes it more manageable.
Here’s two short videos to help you see the process.
Oil your steamer tray, and line up the momos in the tray close enough but not touching.
Once the water starts boiling in the bottom steamer pot, then stack up the steamer trays on it – your momos should be done in about 15 minutes.
For more momo or shabaley making tips – please read my earlier post here
Bon Appetit !! Nyepo nang go !!!