Monks, music, momo, and chilli

Colourful Gyoto Monks
Colourful Gyoto Monks

It’s not all music alone at WOMAD: Taste the World is a special part of the programme where artists share something of their homeland and showing us some of their favourite recipes … what is especially great about this section is that the musicians do it for no charge, just for the love of their food, country, and for their fans!

In this session I went to the Gyoto monks shared some of their food … albeit they don’t eat meat and some of these had meat in them. As well as this cooking event, they were also chanting, creating a daily sand Mandela and of course leading meditation sessions.

As someone who knows a little of Theravada Buddhism, I find it strange that these monks main driver seems to be a ‘return to Tibet’ – this political stance seems to go directly against one of the buddhist precepts which I thought was ‘non-attachment’; to accept things as they are. This seems to be ‘upadana’ holding on to something, being attached. but as I’m not a serious scholar perhaps I’m missing something.

Overhead screens help us see up close details

You have to get here early for a good seat
You have to get here early for a good seat
Just like this
Just like this

Listen here on utube to the monks and their humming, droning type of chanting … it’s very different!

Here is the recipe for MOMO AND GYUTO CHILLI – something which the translator says is a ‘Tantric taste sensation – instant happiness and satisfaction’

INGREDIENTS (These may be varied according to personal taste and availability.)

Small dumplings in the shape of a sun (non-veg) or a moon ( veg ), they are pastry generally filled with a meat/onion/herb mix or potato/onion/pea or cheese/spinach mix which are then steamed in a special momo pot.

Eaten with a Tibetan salad of grated daikon radish and carrot plus copious amounts of chilli sauce often mixed with soy sauce, the meal, both making and eating, is a happy relaxed social occasion.

Hot Tip: Leftovers are usually fried up in shallow oil – many people prefer these momos called ‘Ngo Tak Momos’. When momo steamers are not available, Tibetans cook them in a consommé soup and this meal is known as Mothuk -Soup Momos.


Plain flour and Water. Mix to form a dough then let sit covered for half an hour or store in fridge to create plasticity. With a rolling pin, roll out into round discs approx. 10cms diameter. Holding the dough flat in one hand fill with a spoonful of momo mix and sculpt into a sun or moon shaped form. Steam for approx 30 mins and serve

Filling : Meat Momos

Minced Lamb ( Beef will do),Chopped Onion, Garlic ,Ginger, Coriander. Chop/dice all ingredients finely and mix together.

Filling: Vegetable Momos

Option 1. Potatoes (boiled and mashed), Onion chopped finely, Parsley. Mix Option 2. Cottage cheese, Spinach ( chopped & cooked), Onion ( chopped, a little to taste). Mix all together – not too wet a mix

Gyuto Chilli

Fresh red-hot chilli peppers or dried, chopped onion, garlic and ginger, tomatoes, Tibetan wild pepper ‘yerma’ (Schezuan pepper will do ), oil, salt. Crush and mix together and serve. Alternatively, fry all ingredients in oil for approx. 20 mins. stirring regularly.

NOTE: this is part of a series about my recent road trip to WOMAD 2010 which held annually in New Plymouth: I was travelling in a Backpacker campervan, and on the Interislander ferry over Cook Strait – from Christchurch to WOMAD and back again. for more information check out these links (above) and the categories on the right.

WOMAD New Zealand Read more here on WOMAD NZ and in other parts of the world

Author: Heather - the kiwi travel writer

Nomadic travel-writer, photographer, author & blogger. See more on and Amazon for my books (heather hapeta)

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