Anyone who has had some contact with the Tibetan people would recognize “momo” as a distinctly Tibetan delicacy. This dumpling, filled with vegetables, cheese or meat, is (along with the Thukpa or noodle soup) one of the main menu items in all Tibetan restaurants. At least in the post-1959 period, for several years momo was the symbol of either a party in progress or someone having food in a restaurant. Momos were seen in private homes occasionally and during special occasions. In short momo is considered as Tibetan as the yak or the mythical snow lion.
But in reality, we have shared this food (just as we have done so with our Yak) with our cultural cousins in the Indian Himalayas, Bhutan and Nepal. Even then, Tibetans continued to be seen as the owner of the momo brand.
Now things are changing (at least in Delhi) with the Indianization of momos. I don’t know how it began (may be an enterprising Tibetan must have opened a roadside shack selling momos) but today there are several road side stalls in South Delhi as well as in North Delhi selling momos. Last week I was in north-west Delhi and I had the latest sighting of one such stalls in a small market there with the announcement of the different types of momos and their rates all written in Hindi. The common feature is that these stalls are all owned and operated by Indians. The momo brand has become generic, I guess.