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xinjiang banmian

xinjiang chaomian

stewed mutton

Mutton Stew and Mutton with Noodles
Mutton stew and mutton with noodles are very popular dishes among many of Xinjiang's national minorities, especially the herds-people. The plentiful and fine meat available in pastoral areas means that the herdspeople are accustomed to eating meat all year round. They have their own cooking methods and seasonings as well as certain distinctive customs when serving mutton to guests, all of which impart a unique charm to the food. These may be best typified by the preparation methods of the Kazak people.
Kazaks are renowned for their warmth and generosity in enter-taining. Should visitors arrive from afar, it is de rigeur to slaughter a sheep for an evening's feasting and entertaining. After serving the guests with tea with milk, the host leads a plump sheep right up to the doorway of the yurt and says in all sincerity, "We are deeply honored by the presence of respected guests from afar. We have only a sheep to slaughter in your honor, but we respectfully beg you to accept our humble offering." Then he leads the sheep in for the guests' approval. The eldest of the visitors, acting as spokesman, thanks the host for his great generosity, congratulates him on his flourishing family and livestock, and wishes him every success. Only then is the sheep slaughtered and prepared. The head is singed to remove the wool,' washed clean and then placed together with large pieces of the meat in a pot of water to simmer. No seasonings or other ingredients are added during cooking except for a little salt towards the end. The thoroughly cooked mutton gives off a delicious aroma as it is scooped out of the water, and then an onion-like seasoning is added, making the dish even more mouthwatering. Before the food is served everybody washes their hands as this dish is eaten with the fingers. As a mark of respect, the host first serves the entire head to the visitors who in turn cut off the meat from the left cheek which they return to the serving plate as a token of acceptance. The guests also cut off one of the ears and give to the host's child, or the youngest member of the gathering. This is meant to make the child heed its elders. Then the whole head is returned to the host. Only after this etiquette has been observed may everybody start to eat, and then they may only take pieces of meat

I~hat are close to them on the serving dish, and should avoid by all means taking food at random or selecting choice pieces as this is discourteous. From time to time the host may select tender, tasty pieces of meat and present them to the guests with both hands. Visitors too should use both hands to receive them as a sign of gratitude, and they may also "present Buddha with borrowed flow-ers" by offering the host or a member of his family a' piece of mutton from the serving dish. As well as serving the mutton to their guests, the herds-people also simmer pieces of very thinly rolled dough and noodles in the liquid which the mutton was cooked in, and then scoop them out when done to serve mixed with the meat. This dish is known as naren in the Kazak language, and it too is eaten with the fingers. Noren may be served topped with yogurt. The host usually ends the , meal by ladling out bowls of mutton soup for the guests, and urging them to eat and dr-ink their fill. Straight after this freshly brewed tea is served once again, over which everybody may chat, sometimes lingering far into the night.