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Xinjiang cuisine links China and Turkey


12-16-2016 00:29 BJT

“Big Plate Chicken”—or “da pan ji,” as it is called in China—is a very popular dish from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Also known as “saute spicy chicken,” the dish is even gaining popularity beyond China. In fact, in recent years, the dish has gradually become a must-have for many Turkish Muslims. 

Urumqi Uygur Restaurant located near downtown Ankara is one of the most popular Chinese restaurants in the Turkish capital. It is frequented not only by Chinese living in Ankara, but also locals, and they come for their signature dish: sauté spicy chicken.

Xinjiang da pan ji, which translates literally as “big plate chicken,“ is an extraordinarily delicious dish that originated in Xinjiang, in the far western region of China. The main ingredients are chicken, bell peppers, carrots, potatoes and tomatoes, cooked with scallions, garlic, ginger, chili peppers, star anise, Sichuan peppers, cooking oil, soy sauce and beer. 

“All the saute spicy chickens are made on order, so it’s all fresh out of the kitchen to make sure that our diners get to eat the most authentic Xinjiang flavor,” said Omar, the owner of Urumqi Uygur Restaurant

As Muslims, the Turkish people see themselves as having a cultural and spiritual bond with the people of Xinjiang. 

“As Muslims, locals find Xinjiang cuisine very familiar to their diet. People long to live in an environment that shares the same food, culture and religious beliefs with them. And through Xinjiang food, many locals are also interested in learning more about China and its culture,” Omar said.

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