In Xinjiang's bustling city streets or in the secluded alleys of sleepy
towns one sees kebab braziers set up everywhere by the side of the road.
Roasting over the glowing coals are pieces of mutton impaled on long
skewers laid out in a tightly packed row. The aroma of the sizzling,
spitting meat assails the passersby, and as a treat, adults and children
crowd ont o the long bench in front of the brazier to admire the dexterity
of the kebab seller while savoring the tender barbecued meat. Long-term
residents of Xinjiang invariably heap praise on these kebabs, and newly-arrived
visitors have only to follow their noses to find a kebab brazier and
sit down to try for themselves this unique lamb dish from beyond the
Great Wall. In addition, Xinjiang offers whole roasted lamb and minced
Whole Roast Lamb
For this dish it is best to use a one or two-year-old freshly prepared
lamb. The whole lamb is first rubbed with salt inside and out, and then
coated with a sa uce made from egg , flour , pepper and ziran mixed
together, to which a little hot chili pepper can be added to taste.
Next , a clean piece of wooden dowelling is passed through the length
of the lamb from head to tail. The legs may be trussed, then the whole
lamb is placed in a hot nang oven , preferably with a charcoal fire.
All vents should be tightly sealed and a close watch kept on the oven
temperature. The lamb should be done after an hour and half to two hours,
and have turned a golden brown. This method of roasting seals in the
flavor of the roast meat and gives it a delicious taste. Uygurs serve
this top-class speciality of the region
to honored guests, or it may be the basis for a charming
picnic. At holidays, friends and relatives go on outings to the fields,
mountains and forests of the countryside, often carrying with them a
whole lamb. Out in the open they build an earth oven to roast the lamb,
and then get together to sing and dance until the lamb is cooked, when
everyone gathers round to feast.
This is Xinjiang's most well-known lamb speciality, and kebab braziers
can be found everywhere in the towns and cities. For a kebab, small
cubes of meat are threaded onto a metal skewer and sprinkled with salt
and ziran then barbecued over a charcoal brazier. Hot chili pepper may
be added afterwards if a hot taste is preferred. The succulent golden
skewered meat, speckled with red chili and green ziran entices the eye
while the hot, spicy flavor lingers on the tongue.
Minced Lamb Kebabs (Koftah)
This dish is suitable for the elderly or infants who find chewing difficult.
It is made by mixing minced lamb with salt, pepper, ziran and chili,
and then adding a little cornflour. The mixture is then molded into
a long sausage shape, skewered on a metal skewer and barbecued. Lamb
offal may also be cooked in this way.
Archaeological finds of recipes and pictures have shown that roast and
barbecued meat was commonly eaten in Central China during the Han Dynasty
(206 B.C.-A.D. 220), but with the develop-ment of the economy and the
rise in importance of agriculture, animal husbandry declined, people
gradually ate less and less roast meat, and so its recipes and cooking
utensils were lost. In northw-estern China, however, and especially
in Xinjiang, the economy is still largely based on animal husbandry
so the tradition of roasting meat has continued and developed to become
a widely acclaimed speciality of the border regions today.