Difference Between Momos and Dim sums

“Have you ever heard anyone say ‘1 plate dim sum dena bhaiya’? That says it all. Momos belong to the street while dim sums are nothing but its classier version”

Raise your hands (okay, comment below) if you too think of this as the only difference between a momo and a dim sum.

The question has crossed my mind every time I dip a momo into the spicy red chutney and whenever I sit pretty in an up market restaurant waiting for dim sums to arrive. Is it karma that made dim sum affluent while his brother momo suffers on streets?

Or is there an identity crisis here? Is there a difference other than of class and caste?

The questions haunted me enough to investigate and find out. I started out by asking it out loud in a group full of passionate foodies (Delhi Foodies – We live to Eat) on Facebook. This was an attempt to know general perception. Majority answers were predictable. The above mentioned quote sums it up. When you have it on street it’s momo, it becomes dim sum in a fine dining restaurant. That’s the perceived difference because hey, we’ve never seen momo on the menu of a fine dining restaurant!

The experts, however, give us something more to chew on.

Chef Veer Pratap Singh Parihar from Mei Kun at Kempinski Ambience Hotel, Delhi told Blue Sky Dreamers: “Momos can be called Dim sum, but all Dim sums cannot be called momos. Dimsum refers to Cantonese style of food prepared as small bite-sized portions. In China or Guandong, eating dim sum is actually called “drinking tea”. Also known as Yum-Cha, these used to be tea houses for the traders along the silk route and that is from where the tradition has developed. Dim sum includes, but is not limited to dumplings, as the food items can include chicken feet, lotus-leaf-wrapped sticky rice, congee, sweet items like egg tarts and custard buns.

Momos are essentially a dumpling usually steamed and made essentially of wheat flour and a filling inside. Dimsum can be made with any kind of starch such as rice starch, potato starch and also wheat starch.”

Agrees celebrity Chef Saransh Goila: “Momos are mostly only made of refined flour or all purpose flour whereas dim sums can be made of refined or any flour or any kind of starch… usually potato starch.”

Thus, all momos are dim sums but all dim sums are not momos!

“Also, the main difference,” adds Chef Goila, “is that they’ve different names because they come from different regions.”

Momo originated in Tibet while the dim sum is a product of China.Intriguingly, dim sums arrived in India much before –- as early as 18thcentury. Yet, it did not gain popularity as much as momos did.

Got it? But what I still do not understand is why up market fine dining restaurants do not serve momos and why dim sums wallahs are not on streets. Any answers?

Also, tell us which are your favourite spots for momos and restaurants for Dim sums in your city?

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2 comments

  • Do not agree at all – there is a basic construct difference and also momo was not originated in tibet

    • Thanks for your comment. That there is a difference is what the post says. We found from our research that momos belong to Tibet. Please do tell us the correct origin if this is wrong.

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