The heart of Xin­jiang cui­sine

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By YANG FEIYUE

The diet in the Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion is char­ac­ter­is­tic of Mus­lim food and also in­her­its the rel­a­tively strong taste of foods in north­west­ern China. Most Xin­jiang dishes taste tangy and spicy, and are­madeof beef and­mut­ton cuts that are stir fried, roasted, steamed or made by other cook­ing meth­ods.

The in­land cli­mate, with lit­tle rain­wa­ter and vast desert, rule seafood out of court in Xin­jiang, but the re­gion has abun­dant re­sources of and sheep.

Uygur meals are largely based on mut­ton, beef, chicken, goose, car­rots, toma­toes, onions, pep­pers, egg­plant, cel­ery, var­i­ous dairy foods and fruits. A typ­i­cal break­fast usu­ally in­cludes home-baked bread ( naan), firm but smooth yo­gurt, olives, raisins and al­monds, all washed down with tea.

Cumin seeds, red pep­per flakes, salt and black pep­per are most fre­quently used in pre­par­ing Xin­jiang food.


Xin­jiang food be­gan tak­ing roots in China when Is­lam made in­roads into the coun­try. The eth­nic groups of the re­gion all have their own food pro­hi­bi­tions and fea­tures. Gen­er­ally speak­ing, pork is strictly for­bid­den on the din­ing ta­ble.

Uygur peo­ple like to treat guests with tea, naan and fruits be­fore the main dishes are served. Most Uygur foods are eaten with chop­sticks, a cus­tom that has been adopted from Han Chi­nese cul­ture since the 19th cen­tury. Other eth­nic groups in­Xin­jiang gen­er­ally have var­ied cook­ing and eat­ing meth­ods: Kaza­khs there, for ex­am­ple, usu­ally eat with their hands.

Uygur hosts like to lay out a table­cloth be­fore din­ing, and it’s not con­sid­ered good form to leave food or put food back from their plates. Most of them don’t eat dove and horse­meat, and soy sauce is not much used.

Hui eth­nic peo­ple don’t eat meat that comes from an­i­mals killed by non-Mus­lims or con­sume an­i­mal blood. Jokes about food frowned upon.

Xin­jiang cui­sine can be found across China; many lo­cals have mi­grated to other


also ci­ties to run Xin­jiang restau­rants or food stands, which has helped to pop­u­lar­ize the dis­tinc­tive cui­sine around the coun­try.

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