Multi-ethnic Xinjiang boasts a rich and unique food culture. Breakfast here includes melons, jam and milk tea while lunch is often served with flour-based delicacies featuring beef and mutton. Dinner usually entails Nang (Uygur bread), tea or noodles.
Nang (naan) is essential to Uighur daily life. The bread, baked in Nang Keng (an earthen stove for cooking the bread), is usually round in shape. Nang has a history of two thousand years. There are more than 50 kinds of Nang in Xinjiang, including meat, oil and sesame. According to research, the word “Nang” comes from Persian, with the bread popular on the Arabian Peninsula, in Turkey and Central Asian countries.
Roasted Stuffed Bun
Roasted Stuffed Bun is another popular Uygur dish served at festivals or weddings. The stuffing includes a combination of chopped mutton, beef, sheep-tail fat, onions, salt and cumin. It is generally roasted for 10 – 20 minutes in a Nang Keng till tender.
Zhua Fan (pilaf) also comes from Persian, and is cooked using ingredients like fresh mutton, carrots, onions, vegetables, oil, rice and water. It is served at festivals, funerals and weddings of both Uygurs and Uzbeks. People habitually pick Zhua Fan from a tray by hand, earning it the name ‘Rice Eaten by Hand.’ Nowadays, people use chopsticks and spoons instead of their fingers.