The cuisine of Xinjiang reflects the region's many ethnic groups, and refers particularly to Uyghur cuisine. Signature ingredients include roast mutton, kebabs, roast fish and rice. Because of the Islamic population, the food is predominantly halal.
Ethnic groups in Xinjiang generally have different cooking and eating methods. Han people in Xinjiang use chopsticks while Kazakhs eat with their hands. Ceremonial foods for certain groups include horse milk for the Kyrgyz and sheep entrails for the Xibe. The dishes of the Dongxiang people are prominent in Xinjiang-style restaurants. Signature Dongxiang dishes are noodles boiled in thick mutton soup and steamed twisted rolls.
Uyghur food is characterized by mutton, beef, camel, chicken, goose, carrots, tomatoes, onions, peppers, eggplant, celery, various dairy foods, and fruits. Uyghur-style breakfast is tea with home-baked bread, hardened yogurt, olives, honey, raisins, and almonds. Uyghurs like to treat guests with tea, naan and fruit before the main dishes are ready.
Sangza are crispy and tasty fried wheat flour dough twists, a holiday specialty. Samsa are lamb pies baked using a special brick oven. Youtazi is steamed multilayer bread. Göshnan are pan-grilled lamb pies. Pamirdin are baked pies with lamb, carrots, and onion inside. Xurpa is lamb soup. Other dishes include Tohax, a different type of baked bread, and Tunurkawab.
The primary dishes include Shou La Mian, Shou La Mian is a special type of handmade noodle, made from flour, water and salt. The dough is divided into small balls and then stretched by hand. The noodles are boiled until very soft and then served topped with stir-fried meat, vegetables (bell peppers, hot peppers, cabbage, onion, tomatoes), in meat stock.
Other dishes include soups made of lamb or chicken; shish kebabs of lamb or beef; and polos (rice platters also known as pilaf, with lamb or chicken). Bread is the Central Asian-style baked flatbread known as naan, using sesame seeds, butter, milk, vegetable oil, salt, and sugar.
Kebabs, seasoned with chili powder, salt, black pepper, and ziran (cumin), are eaten with the skewer parallel to the mouth, gripping the kebab closest to the end with one's teeth and sliding it off the pointed edge into one's mouth.
Another popular Xinjiang dish is Da Pan Ji, which is literally translated as 'Big Plate Chicken'. Spices include cumin seeds, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, sultanas, and the fat of the meat is used for flavoring. Beverages include Chinese black tea, Kawas, a honeyed nonalcoholic drink, and other drinks available in other areas of China (bottled).