Momos is a simple, light and scrumptious snack made of white flour (maida) and is stuffed with either chicken or leafy vegetables like cabbage. It is my personal favourite because unlike other tasty yet little unhealthy snacks, it’s steamed, and gives a soothing and calm taste once it hits the taste palette. But it’s soothing and calm only if you are having it without the red hot chutni that causes an effect no less than a volcanic eruption in your mouth. The soft, slippery snack with jelly like texture with its equally light stuffing is complemented with a paste of fiery chutni. It is a remarkable combination of two opposites coming together to make something fabulous- bland white momos and sizzling red chutni.
So what could have been the story behind this interesting union? Was it the clever machinations of fate or their coming together was purely accidental.
Momos is now a household name and is easily available in most of the food outlets. But it wasn’t always like this. Momos was born in a faraway mountainous region that spoke of immense natural beauty. The Sun God was so pleased with its beauty and richness that it graced the valley with its warm, radiant and rejuvenating sunrays throughout the year. The sunrays provided food for the plants and flowers that made it bloom and shine joyously always. The delicate, beautiful flowers with velvety texture adorned the valley with their bright hue and radiance. It was enthralling to see the bright, luscious green patch of land with its tall columns of trees dancing to the tune of soft breeze. The wild growth of umpteen varieties of flowers on the green patch of land was akin to the splatter of paint on an artist’s canvas. The valley was enveloped by several small undulating hills that added a touch of beauty to the already picturesque place. This was the beautiful Sun Valley as it was called by the inhabitants of the place in deference of the Sun God for his generosity and benevolence.
The Sun Valley was famous in distant regions for its bountiful natural resources and warmth. It was a cause of envy for people from other regions but they all loved harmony and peace more than anything else so they never contemplated war to annex the Sun Valley. Besides everybody revered and was in awe of the head of Sun Valley, Maida Sun. A small hamlet of about ten families resided in the Sun Valley. All the members of the community suffixed Sun to their names because it imbued a sense of pride in them.
Maida Sun had been the village head for the past 30 years. He was known for his ability of pairing up an array of individuals with interesting characteristics to make lip smacking delicacies. His intelligence was highly acclaimed both within and outside his village. He was a jovial but slightly imperious.
There were different theories elucidating the cause of his intelligence. According to one, it was believed that Maida Sun owed his intelligence to the warmth cast by Sun God. The warm sunrays killed the invisible, suspended germs in the air that leads to sickness and ill health. As a result of this whenever he inhaled fresh air, it stimulated his brain cells, making it work efficiently. There was another theory which said that it was the pleasant, sweet smell of flowers that activated his brain cells to think in an innovative manner. These were mere theories but the truth was that it was his heart and not the brain that guided him in making decisions.
Maida Sun had four sons. They were Pancake Sun, Dognut Sun, Pizza Sun and Momos Sun. Pancake Sun was the eldest of the lot while Momos Sun was the youngest. Everybody except Momos Sun had been living happily with their small families of mouth watering goodies. Pancake Sun had Egg Sun, Milk Sun, Oil Sun and Honey Sun in his family. Honey Sun was his favourite because it complemented him with its sweetness. Maida Sun had forged a pact with the Bees of the valley to get honey. He said, “My fellow village Bees, I will give you access to my pretty garden with beautiful varieties of flowers and very sweet nectar if you let me keep honey for my son Pancake.” The Bees quickly agreed to his proposal because it would be foolish for them to turn down the inviting offer. Two new members had been recently added to the Maida family. They were Chocolate Sun and Cheese Sun. Chocolate was living with Dognut Sun and Cheese with Pizza Sun.
Maida Sun undertook an exploration twice during a year and it was during one such exploration that he discovered Cheese and Chocolate. Cheese and Chocolate were already familiar with each other as they were neighbours. Both were very adventurous so after learning about Sun Valley from Maida Sun, they decided to join him. Chocolate had made Dognut Sun more savoury with its rich taste and flavour. Cheese on the other hand had made Pizza Sun smooth and gooey.
Maida Sun had always discharged his duties and responsibilities as a father and as a village headman efficiently but now he was worried for his youngest son Momos Sun. Despite trying very hard to find a partner for him, he wasn’t getting lucky at this task. His heart ached to see his son with a gloomy face.
Maida Sun tried to pair him up with Mustard Sauce. But its slightly strong aroma didn’t go well with Momo Sun’s stuffing. In yet another attempt he tried pairing him up with Coriander Chutni. But it made Momo Sun taste more insipid and look dull. Tomato also failed to prove a good companion. It soaked Momo Sun completely in its tanginess that lead to a bizarre taste.
This was the first time Maida Sun found himself in a fix. Then one day a stranger sauntered in the Sun Valley. Maida Sun found the stick figure with shiny red skin peculiar and also amusing. To his utter surprise, this alien also emitted red, hot, burning smoke at times. Even though it looked like a creature from some other world, Maida Sun was bewildered to find that it could understand their language. This new creature introduced herself as Tikhi Chilli.
Tikhi Chilli had come from an adjoining nondescript region called Mirch Nagri. The residents of Mirch Nagri had displeased the Sun God by forgetting to celebrate his birthday with a grand feast. The Sun God unleashed his anger by flooding their region with incessant rain. The folks of Mirch Nagri needed the warm sunrays to keep them dry throughout the year and prevent their death by rotting in damp weather. The Sun God’s ire had lead to great upheaval, destroying many lives.
Tikhi Chilli ran from her village in time to save herself from death. She had heard about the generosity of Maida Sun, and was also aware of the benevolence of Sun God in this valley. Hence, she had come to Sun Valley for shelter.
Maida Sun did live up to his reputation and provided his new guest with good food and shelter. Tikhi Chilli was very obliged for this kind gesture. He observed that Momo Sun always blushed and glowed in her presence. Tikhi Chilli also emitted red, hot, burning smoke whenever she was with Momo Sun which was actually her way of expressing her happiness. Maida Sun’s experienced eyes could not be deceived and he also realised that bland Momo was really well complemented by Tikhi Chilli’s fiery, hot flavour. Nothing looked more fascinating than Momo Sun’s whiteness against Tikhi Chilli’s rich red demeanour. Their union was celebrated with great pomp and show in the Sun Valley.
This is how they met, and maybe next time I will tell the story of Momo Sun and Tikhi Chilli’s adventure outside their small valley, in the city.