Man – Momos – Magic

“Let’s make momos tomorrow,” said my host Thupten a few days before I left Pokhara for Kathmandu. I was renting a room at his apartment which features beautiful Tibetan-style interior. While the interior was sure to have attracted me, it was the man himself who’s company made my stay memorable. For a month, Thupten – a second-generation Tibetan refugee in Nepal – shared his knowledge on different topics with Tibet, Buddhism, and Dalai Lama being frequent subjects.

I couldn’t say no to his offer. The next morning, he was already out for shopping and brought buffalo meat, vegetables, and flour among other things. For the rest of the morning, he passionately engaged in making momos while I tried to documented the process.

From chopping up the meat to guessing when momos were ready – Thupten had his own ways to do everything. In the end, we were served momos in three shapes, bone soup, red chilli ‘chutney’ or paste, and a sautéd vegetable which Thupten refers to simply as ‘Chinese vegetable’ as he doesn’t remember what it’s called.

The result of a few hours of preparations is what I call ‘magic.’ Thupten’s momos were nothing like I have had before. While you get a plate of ‘good’ momos possibly anywhere in Nepal, what resulted from Thupten’s efforts was beyond words. He also showed me how to enjoy his momos – mixing a momo with spicy red chilly paste, sucking on the juice that comes oozing out after the first bite, and topping with the bone soup.

I shot the whole process in a custom black and white profile based on Acros film simulation. It features increased highlights and shadows with weak grain and custom white balance. The kitchen window was used as the light source.

Year: 2021

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Thupten mincing meat

The bone soup in process

Red chillies being boiled for 'chutney'

Thupten chopping up spring onions

Thupten adding minced vegetables on top of minced meat

Bowl with minced meat and vegetables topped with salt

Minced meat and vegetables being mixed

Thupten sprinkling flour as he rolls the dough

Rolled dough being cut into round shape using a small metal bowl

Thupten adding mixture of minced meat and vegetables

Thupten showing how to add stuffing and get the momo shape right

Shaping the momos

Thupten shows a momo after it has been stuffed and shaped

Uncooked momos sitting in the steamer

The bone broth is nearly ready

The magic is underway – Momos being steamed

Preparing the red chilli paste to be enjoyed with momos

Thupten placing a boiled tomato into red chilli mixture

Mixing up red chillies, tomatoes, onions, and garlic to make 'chutney'

Thupten preparing to sauté what he calls a 'Chinese vegetable'

Bone soup is being served

Opening the magic box – momos are ready

Thupten serving momos

A plate of momos served with bone soup