- Rachel Stearns
- Vegetarian chile momos at Namaste Kitchen
Before I even took my first bite of Namaste Kitchen's chile momos back in 2022, I knew the dish was something special. I'd come across a photo while searching the new restaurant's menu online: a plate of perfectly pleated dumplings glistening with a deep red, sticky coating. I'm a sucker for stuffed dough (pierogi, tortellini, samosas, you name it), and a dumpling tossed in a spicy sauce struck me as unusual yet natural. I had to have it.
At the time, Pabi and Santa Pradhan had just opened Namaste Kitchen on Shelburne Road in the spot previously occupied by Himalayan Kitchen and Bar. My husband and I split that first order of chile momos. But when I stopped by the family-owned Nepali restaurant on a recent evening, the momos were all mine.
On the menu just below the regular momo offerings ($7.99 to $9.99) — vegetable, chicken, beef or pork, steamed or fried — the chile momos ($10.99) include the dumplings of your choice fried then tossed in a flavorful chile sauce with bell peppers and onions, served with a side of fresh tomato sauce.
I ordered the veggie variety, and the server asked how spicy I preferred the dish. "Medium?" I said tentatively, emboldened by the full carafe of water on the table.
The eight dumplings arrived puffed and crispy from their tumble in the fryer. The gingery, garlicky, spice-infused sauce tingled on my lips, and the finely chopped cabbage and onion made for a steamy, soft filling. The cold tomato dipping sauce added brightness and toned down both kinds of heat: spice and temperature. The sweet crunch of tender-crisp peppers and onions complemented the deep savoriness of the two sauces.
The heat level was palatable but spicy enough to leave a lingering warmth in my face, reminiscent of the pleasant feeling after a day spent in the sun.
- Rachel Stearns
- Pabi and Santa Pradhan
Although chile momos were new to me last year, the Pradhans' eldest daughter, Sunita, 28, grew up on the dish.
"It's something we always ate since we were kids. I remember my whole life making momo at home," she said. In 2012, the Pradhans left Nepal — where Pabi ran a small restaurant out of their home — to join extended family in Vermont. Sunita helped in the home kitchen, but Namaste Kitchen's momos are solely her mother's territory. "My mom is really strict about how they look — she wraps every single one. She won't even let me touch them," Sunita said.
Instead, when she's on break from college in Pittsburgh, Sunita shares front-of-house responsibilities with her sisters, Tuka and Ishmita, and their sister-in-law, Pranisha Subba. Brother Jeewan serves and also cooks, spending much of his time making naan.
The menu includes a variety of Nepali specialties, such as thali combination platters; chow mein (noodles); thukpa (noodle soup); and vegetable, meat and seafood curries.
The Pradhans cook them all by heart.
"My mom has been cooking for so long, she just knows what she's doing. She doesn't even measure anything," Sunita said. When an out-of-state customer asked for a curry recipe, Sunita recalled apologizing: "I'm so sorry. I can't give it to you because there is no recipe — my mom just cooks!"
Luckily for me and my chile momos obsession, Namaste Kitchen is right down the road.
"One Dish" is a series that samples a single menu item — new, classic or fleeting — at a Vermont restaurant or other food venue. Know of a great plate we should feature? Drop us a line: [email protected].