Contributed by Guest Blogger Sayantan Dasgupta
For someone who claims that his raison d’être is food, not having written even once about food seems like a bad idea. But, at the outset, let me admit something. Great lover of food though I am, my knowledge of cooking ends at preparation of instant noodles! Of course, any bachelor worth his salt will vouch for instant noodles being an absolute lifeline, especially, if you are staying far away from home, in a place where the food sucks….
This brings me to two of my favorite cuisines, Tibetan and Chinese. Indians at large and Bengalis in specific have this uncanny ability to embrace things they like to such an extent that one is reminded of the saying, “more loyal than the king….”
So, cricket happens to be the unofficial national game of India, Bata happens to be un-official national footwear company of middleclass India, and Chinese food, believe it or not, happens to be the national food of India too!!!
And though the Tibetan nationalist movement has not made much headway into the vice-like grip of the Chinese over Lhasa, it’s a different story all-together as far as the battle gastronomique being fought between China & Tibet is concerned, which for the un-initiated, is being fought on the streets of Calcutta!
One has to really see it to believe, the ways Momos have captured the heart or, to be precise, stomach of the everyday Calcuttan…
Be it the busy intersection known as Exide More near Rabindra Sadan, or the footpath in front of South City Mall. Be it the mouth watering chicken momo served in the swanky Mainland China restaurant or the amazingly delicious pork kothay available at the Blue Poppy. Momo has become Calcutta’s favorite breakfast, brunch, lunch, evening snack and dinner.
The street foodies’ paradise that Calcutta is, there are of course, many mouth-watering alternatives available for the non-vegetarian janta. Top of list, of course has to be the various types of rolls, egg, chicken, egg-chicken, mutton, and what not. And yes, please don’t even think of comparing rolls with the pretender known as Frankie, which is available on the streets of Bombay. It is no match. A closer potential competitor may be considered the Arabian dish named Shawarma, which you can try out at the Arhan Thai. It’s basically a sandwich like wrap of shaved chicken or any other meat served with pita bread. I can’t get enough of it and must have introduced practically all my non-vegetarian friends to it. But, the common flaw with both rolls, and shawarma and food of similar genre, is their calorie content.
That’s where the Momo is a hands down winner, for the increasingly health conscious citizen. Momos are made with a white flour and water dough, in which a filling of different kinds of meat is added. The dough is generally given a crescent shape, and steamed. The lack of oil makes it a hit as does the fact that it is extremely value for money. It can cost as low as Rs.40 for a plate of five momos. Moreover, from the business point of view also it is very easy and inexpensive to make and requires very little space to put up a stall. This is vital in a metropolis which is bursting at the seams. I find momo stalls doing roaring business on busy intersections like Park Street, which are practically set up on a small folding table.
Easy to cook, affordable, delicious but comparatively low on calorie, Momos have arrived and are here to stay…..
Originally published here