The only time I had eaten a momo before I came to Delhi was in a small roadside shop enroute Gangtok in 1998. We had been driving on zig zag roads for hours after a 2-day train journey and were famished.
Those were not the days of packaged food or Rajdhani trains (at least for us). We are what we packed from home or relied on train and dhaba food. But on the road to Gangtok there was no dhaba. When we asked the driver, he stopped at a small house on the road that also had a shop attached. The kinds you once found in the hills. (Now there are fancy hotels).
Apart from tea, the lady only had momos. Although we had never eaten them before, we were too hungry to bother. And so, a plate of steaming white dumplings was presented to us after a wait of about 10 minutes. .
The food turned out to be hot and fresh but our palates, used to the samosas and kachauris had no appreciation for the subtle flavours. The fresh cabbage (we were vegetarians back then) and the hand rolled dumplings felt too plain and bland. We ate only because we had no option. Needless to say we didn’t touch any if it during the rest if the trip. (Sacrilegious I know.!)
For years after that it was a standing joke among us siblings. And then we moved to Delhi.
My husband (who was still trying to woo me with good food then) took me to Dilli Haat one day and got me Momos and Thukpa. Thankfully by then he had already converted me to a meat eater, so I did not have to eat cabbage. The momos I ate here won me over as did the Thukpa and the man – if he could get me such amazing food I had nothing to worry about in life.
That was 17 years ago. Momos and Thukpa are parts of every day food now – at least in Delhi. But for us, when we really need to feed our soul, we go back to the same shop to eat the same thing.