Nepali Newcomers in an Indian Kitchen

As Jackson Heights, Queens, has taken on an increasingly Himalayan flavor, so has Tawa Food. This little shop, a longtime hound destination for north Indian breads, has added Nepali cooks who are turning out homey dumplings, flatbreads, and rolls, among other things.

CitySpoonful finds their vegetable momos superb, filled with "amazingly flavorful" spiced cabbage and carrots. The seasoning is something like Indian but not quite, "a different combination of spices than my Punjabi mom-in-law would select," she says. A very spicy chutney and a tangy radish pickle come alongside the dumplings. CitySpoonful, who's been on a momo mission of sorts, says Tawa's are by far the most flavorful around, beating those at nearby Bombay Chat (a.k.a. Samyeling) and Tashi Delek, the dumpling counter tucked inside Bangladeshi-Indian grill Merit Kabab Palace. She faults only Tawa's wrappers, which seem to be store-bought wonton skins, not dough rolled in-house.

Tawa's Nepali Hut, as the expanded kitchen is known, also makes tasty kati rolls. The aloo version, filled with mildly spiced potato, chopped onion, and pepper, gets a bracing kick from a dollop of house-made mint chutney. "The whole package was amazingly zesty and flavorful," CitySpoonful says. Others have raved about nonvegetarian offerings like chicken momos and qeema baari (lentil pancakes topped with chicken).

As for Tawa's Indian breads, they're as good as ever. CitySpoonful says the paratha are quite nice: thin, delicate, and surprisingly light on oil. And the owner is gracious and friendly, offering storage and steaming tips for the momos—which are sold frozen so you can take them to go—and, if you're lucky, a pot of freshly brewed chai.

Tawa Food [Jackson Heights]
37-38 72nd Street (near Broadway), Jackson Heights, Queens
718-457-7766

Discuss: The veggie options at Tawa's Nepali Hut rock