High on the roof of the world, where they were born, Momos are fat little dumplings stuffed with yak meat and vegetables. But today, for you, I have a seasonal — and vegan — version with one of my most favorite flavors in the world: artichoke hearts.
My memories of eating great Momos are tied with Ladakh, an enchanting region nestled high in the Himalayas in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Ladakh is dotted — rather paradoxically — by Buddhist monks and the Indian military, both as a result of its strategic location: it sits smack-dab next to Tibet and, therefore, China, which has a long-running border dispute with India.
Ladakh’s beauty is overwhelming — and does a better job of sucking the air out of your lungs than even the dizzying altitude can. The drama begins even as the tiny plane wings its way precariously between the craggy mountains to the small, rustic-looking airport. Once you touch land, thousands of feet higher than where you were just an hour ago, you are surrounded by snow-capped Himalayan peaks. The landscape, in shades of black, white and brown, is stark and barren. Here and there a lake or a river startles you with a vivid, jewel-like blue or green. Monasteries and palaces are stacked almost haphazardly along the mountainsides.