What is a Momo?
Momo is a Nepali steamed dumpling filled with minced vegetables or ground meat served with a side of achaar, a dipping sauce. The origin of momo can be traced back to the times when the indigenous Newari community traveled to Tibet for trade and barter of goods. They enjoyed this dumpling so much that they wanted to replicate it in Nepal but did not have the same ingredients available locally and thus the momo was born; a Newari twist to the Tibetan dumpling.
What is special about Urban Momo’s momo?
Purna Sherpa, one of the owners perfected the recipe over several years of working and cooking at various restaurants across Nepal, in the Himalayas during expeditions and around the world. It is a taste that the Nepalis would reminisce on when they think about authentic momos back in Nepal; a taste that takes you back home! All the spices and proportions are from the secret recipe that originated by improvising the traditional recipe over several years.
Meet the man who scaled Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest)
Urban Momo’s owner, Purna Sherpa was born in Eastern Nepal in the mountainous region of Mt. Kanchenjunga. At the age of ten, he fled the mountains to the capital city Kathmandu and starting working at a momo restaurant as a dishwasher. He learned the process of momo making by observing each and every detail that goes into the preparation of these delicious dumplings. Over the next few years, Purna worked at various restaurants across Nepal and even moved to India where he continuued perfecting a momo recipe of his own.
In 1989 Purna returned to Nepal and became a trekking porter, carrying luggage of hikers and trekkers on various Himalayan climbs; 3-4 years later became a porter and later assumed the role of guide where he would cook food for hikers on mountain expeditions; 2 years later he became Naike, a leader on these treks. Purna also worked with the British army to train the soldiers on the Himalayan terrain. Ultimately this took him to the UK where he would stay 6 months of the year and also where he finally perfected his momo recipe and was able to make and sell momos as his livelihood. In the other half of the year, in Nepal, he continued on as Naike and after five unsuccessful climbing expeditions of Sagarmatha, in 2001, he finally summitted the Mountain.
After he summitted the Great Mountain, Purna opened a mountain climbing company of his own, Himalayan Ecstasy, and conducted numerous trips and tours in the Himalayas. The company focused on ice-climbing, rock climbing and other various outdoor activities.
In 2006, Purna migrated to the U.S. where he worked in the restaurant industry in the bay area before he opened Urban Curry.
Let’s talk about some of the other Nepali dishes on our menu:
Choila – medium rare meat – a traditional celebratory community platter usually served extra spicy, smoked it in hay and mixed with traditional Nepali spices.
Bhute ko bhaat – Farmers’ fried rice - originated because farmers who would carry lunch wanted the convenience where all veggies, meat and spices were added to rice to reduce the number of containers they had to carry. Over the years, this dish has derived flavors from other parts of Nepal and became popular amongst the city crowd as well.
Gorkhali chili gravy – the Newari community would barter/trade with Tibetans and during their travels got an in-depth taste and knowledge about the local food in Tibet. They wanted to replicate the delicacies from there with whatever was available in Nepal. This brought out many new dishes to the Nepali cuisine and quickly caught on with the city crowd. This chili dish is one such variation of the Tibetan spicy dish which is a stir fry of vegetables, meat, spices and sauces.