Last week, Ramesh Arora, a BJP MLC from Jammu, called for a ban on “Chinese” momos, saying “our teenagers are getting addicted to the killer dumplings”. Mohan, who sells momos in Delhi’s Majnu Ka Tila, says his customers don’t worry about the origins of the dish
1. Where did you learn to make momos?
Before coming to New Delhi 22 years ago, I worked for eateries in Birgunj, Nepal. They all served momos.
2.Is it a Chinese dish?
Par momos Nepal mein bhi khaya jata hai. Khana chahe kahin ka ho, kya fark padta hai (But momos are also eaten in Nepal. How does the origin of a dish matter)? South Indian food is very popular in Delhi, but that does not mean that it is destroying the food culture of North India. That is not the case. Also, people get bored of the same kind of food and want to try different cuisines.
3.Who are your customers?
Majnu Ka Tila is famous for its momos and everyone from students to the locals, children and even the elderly come here. Momos are pocket-friendly and filling. My wife helps me prepare the momos at home and I steam them on my cart before serving. I sell a plate of vegetarian momos for Rs 30 and the chicken-filled ones for Rs 40, and earn between Rs 1,500 and Rs 2,000 a day. I work on all days, except Tuesdays, from noon to 9 pm.
4.There are many momo carts in Majnu Ka Tila. Is business tough?
When I started out, I was probably the only one selling momos here. Now there are restaurants and thelas (carts) serving momos in every nook and corner of Majnu Ka Tila. But there are enough customers for everyone to cater to.
5.How popular are the newer varieties of momos — wheat, tandoori, chocolate?
People come to Majnu Ka Tila for traditional, steamed momos, especially the ones filled with chicken. Even the fried ones are not very popular here.