Preparing delicious momo reminds Tyler Stoldt of when he used to make chicken and noodles with his family at Thanksgiving.
These meat-filled, spicy dumplings are a traditional street food in Nepal. They’re also the shining star of the meal during the November holiday at the Stoldt household.
Tyler and his wife, Mikky, a native of Nepal, have been foregoing traditional Thanksgiving foods — such as turkey, mashed potatoes and dressing — in favor of momo since 2016.
“Basically, I love them,” Tyler said. “... And I’ve always worked at colleges, so typically, we get the week off. We can make the dough homemade, which takes time, roll it out, do that all together.”
Their 3-year-old son, Conrad, also loves the dumplings, and making them allows the family of three to bond with one another.
“I come from a different cultural background, and so we mostly do it for Conrad so he can experience the best of both worlds,” Mikky said. “And I think it’s a fun way to mix (Tyler’s) tradition and my tradition together.”
Mikky does not use a recipe to create the 150 to 200 dumplings every year, as she can recall it by her own head; she doesn’t use specific measurements.
Making momo transports her back to times when she made the dumplings with her mother back in Nepal.
“It’s also something I saw my mom, growing up, she would make it,” she said. “So that’s how I learned, and I want to do the same with my kid. That’s why we decided to do it.”
For Tyler, this is a win-win situation as he isn’t particularly a fan of the traditional turkey served at Thanksgiving.
“It’s typically cold during Thanksgiving; you get to hang out inside and cuddle up, and that spicy food warms you up,” Tyler said. “I really like it. Then, you can just keep eating it throughout the day.”
The Stoldts usually serve momo with chicken bone soup and pickled chutney, which is a spicy tomato-based sauce, to dip the momo in. Mikky said people can alter the spice level to their personal preferences, though.
Spices used in the momo include coriander powder and cumin powder, Mikky said.
Back in Nepal, momo dumplings are typically filled with water buffalo meat, but chicken is also a popular choice, Mikky said.
Tyler said he enjoys rolling out the momo dough, but said he does not like folding the dough. Mikky said she loves the whole process of creating the dumplings.
“The whole thing is very special to me,” Mikky said.
The couple married in 2015. Mikky came to Chanute, a town in southeast Kansas, in 2013 from Nepal and attended Neosho Community College, which is where she met Tyler.
“When we first met, we were both students,” Tyler said.
Tyler grew up near Chanute and graduated from the Altoona-Midway school district before attending Neosho.
The couple moved to Manhattan in mid-September as Tyler is working on a doctorate in community college leadership at Kansas State University.
Tyler worked at Highland Community College previously, where he was in charge of housing and campus safety. The family moved to Manhattan to be closer to the K-State campus while he is taking classes toward his doctorate. Currently, Tyler is an academic adviser at Manhattan Area Technical College.
They said they love the Manhattan community, and they find it extra special that there is a presence of Nepal here and on campus. K-State has a Nepalese Student Association, established in 2006, according to K-State’s student organizations website.
“Obviously, there are a lot of different Nepalese students out there,” Tyler said. “So I’m sure they’re having momo, too, probably throughout the year. That’s kind of an interesting part of it too to live in Manhattan where we have that culture. Obviously, in Chanute or in Highland, you’re not going to have that.”