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Bhutanese food: Steaming business
Bina busy at work
It originated in China, is considered a Bhutanese delicacy, but the the momo hawkers in Jaigaon have the trick to mint money from the steamed minced vegetables covered in dough.

They do not run from street to street or from house to house. They tempt, they attract, they lure their customers and they know Bhutanese cannot resist it.

Just as the sun goes down and the mercury starts dropping, the busy Jaigaon street is dotted with stalls set with big steaming Muktos (steamers) containing mouth watering momos.

As customers, mostly Bhutanese, pass by the stalls the hawkers lift the lid of the Mukto sending out a whiff of momos to catch the attention of the passerby.

And it works.

Despite the crowd, the pollution and sometimes even the stench from the clogged drains, Bhutanese can be seen circling various vendor's table, dipping the momos in sauce and munching, unaffected by the surrounding.

"I cannot resist the smell of momos,"says a customer. "They are hot, cheap and filling."

The momos are small, a little less than a mouthful, but they are steaming hot and cost only Nu.5 for a plate, which is about Nu. 15 to Nu. 25 cheaper compared to those sold in Phuentsholing. "It makes a good meal when you are in a hurry,"says a shopper.

The hawkers know that Bhutanese customers are inquisitive if the momos are made from meat and therefore, most sell vegetable momos while some sell cheese momos.

"I always come here to eat momos,"says Kezang, a corporate employee. "I don't know if they have some secret ingredients but it does taste a lot better there,"she said.

While different people had their own favourite spots and vendors, the most popular momo stall is located under a staircase of a building near the Mukherjee center. The vegetable momos at this stall are slightly expensive with only five pieces for Nu. 5.

The owner of the stall, Bina and her assistant prepares the snack at the stall. The customers are provided with a set of benches to sit on.

Sometimes Bina gets around 100 customers in a day, of which most are Bhutanese.

Five years in the business and Bina knows that there are people looking for momos right from morning till late in the evening. Bina works from 7 am in the morning to 9 pm in the evening.

As long as you don't mind onion breath, there are momos in Jaigaon, cheap, hot and fresh.

This article was contributed by Kinley Wang, Kuensel, Bhutan's National Newspaper, 2007
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