The “We Knead To Bake” bread baking group and to me, if there’s yeast in the bread dough then the recipe qualifies for us to make. So we’re making a savoury Tibetan yeasted bread called Tingmos or Ting Momos (also called Te Momos by the Sherpas), which are not baked but steam cooked. If you’ve never heard of Tingmos before, they’re a steamed bread that is usually used by Tibetans to soak up everything from soup to curries and even spicy pickles/ sauces.
The Tingmo is a sort of a cousin to the Chinese steamed buns called Mantou and is also popular in the Indian state of Sikkim whch has a geographical border with Tibet. You can also generally find it on the menu at most Tibetan eateries all over India, along with Momos. Chinese steamed buns, Momos and Tingmos all probably have a common origin.
I should think the traditional version of this bread actually doesn’t use yeast but only baking powder as a leavening agent. However, I have seen a few Tingmo recipes using yeast as well, and that’s the version I picked for us to bake. This recipe is adapted from Rick Stein’s cookbook “India”, and while I’ve found Mr Stein’s recipes on his television series on Indian food are not always the most authentic, this one seemed doable.
Rick Stein describes Tingmos as “spongy, slightly gelatinous little steamed Tibetan buns, pleasingly savoury with ginger, garlic, coriander and tomato. Rather irritatingly more-ish on their own, they’re addictive when dunked into a rich curry or the very yummy Tibetan red chilli sauce”
In Tibet, this little bun is apparently eaten usually at breakfast with a rice porridge called “Dreythuk”. They’re quite popular though with a very spicy red chilly dipping sauce called Sepen. They can also be served with soups or “curries”
When made and cooked properly, Tingmos should be soft, fluffy and slightly chewy. There are two types of Tingmos, from what I been able to figure out – one that’s plain and one with a little filling. This video is a good insight into how Tingmos are made
This recipe is made with filling as I personally like these better than the plain ones. I’ve come across different ways of shaping Tingmos and they range from intricately fashioned rolls, through plainly rolled and tucked breads to rather shapeless lumpy looking steamed dough. I’ve chosen an easy method of shaping which involves rolling up the dough and slicing it pretty much in the fashion of making cinnamon rolls.
Tingmos, in most restaurants here, are served with a red and very hot/ spicy dipping sauce/ chutney called Sepen. Sepen is a Tibetan sauce/ chutney that is apparently served at almost every Tibetan meal. Sepen gets it’s colour and heat from the main ingredient – dried red chillies.
As as is the case with most recipes, you will find a good deal of variation in recipes for Sepen depending on who is making it, but the traditional Sepen is usually a fiery red, really spicy, thick and slightly chunky sauce/ chutney that screams “chillies”
While searching for a good recipe, I discovered a non-traditional version of Sepen that is tomato based and somewhat like a really spicy Salsa. The.
I liked the sound of this better as the tomatoes would tone down the fire of the chillies, while adding a little acidity and sweetness to the Sepen. While picking out the tomatoes from the vegetable drawer in my fridge, I found a red bell pepper so I added half of that to the Sepen.
While this does take away from the authenticity of the recipe, I felt it added to the flavour of the sauce/ chutney. (Tingmos adapted from Rick Stein’s India and the Tomato Based Sepen / Tibetan Hot Sauce or Chutney is adapted from YoWangdu)