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Part of a series of articles on

Islam in China

Chinese Islamic cuisine

Cuisine

Lamian
Chuanr
Beef noodle soup
Suan cai

A Halal Bakery in Tuanjie St, the main street of Linxia City.

Chinese Islamic cuisine (清真菜 qīngzhēncài or 回族菜 huízúcài) is the cuisine of the Hui (ethnic Chinese Muslims) and other Muslims living in the People's Republic of China.

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History

Due to the large Muslim population in western China, many Chinese restaurants cater to, or are run by, Muslims. Northern Chinese Islamic cuisine originated in China proper. It is heavily influenced by Beijing cuisine, with nearly all cooking methods identical, and differs only in material due to religious restrictions. As a result, northern Islamic cuisine is often included in Beijing cuisine.

Traditionally, there is a distinction between northern and southern Chinese Islamic cuisine despite both utilizing mutton and lamb. Northern Chinese Islamic cuisine relies heavily on beef, but rarely ducks, geese, shrimp or seafood, while southern Islamic cuisine is the reverse. The reason for this difference is due to availability of the ingredients. Oxen have been long used for farming and Chinese governments have frequently strictly prohibited the slaughter of oxen for food. However, due to the geographic proximity of the northern part of China to minority-dominated regions that were not subjected to such restrictions, beef could be easily purchased and transported to northern China. At the same time, ducks, geese, and shrimp are rare in comparison to southern China due to the arid climate of northern China.

A Chinese Islamic restaurant (清真菜館 mandarin: qīngzhēn càiguǎn) can be similar to a Mandarin restaurant with the exception that there is no pork on the menu. The Chinese word for halal is "pure truth" (清真, pinyin: qīngzhēn) food (菜, cài), so a Chinese Islamic restaurant is a "qingzhen restaurant" that serves "qingzhen" food.

In most major cities in China, there are small Islamic restaurants typically run by migrants from Western China (e.g., Uyghurs), which offer inexpensive noodle soup. These restaurants are typically decorated with Islamic motifs such as pictures of Islamic rugs and Arabic writing.

Another difference is that lamb and mutton dishes are more commonly available than in other Chinese restaurants, due to the greater prevalence of these meats in the cuisine of western Chinese regions. (Refer to image 1.)

Many cafeterias (canteens) at Chinese universities have separate sections or dining areas for Muslim students (Hui or western Chinese minorities), typically labeled "qingzhen." Student ID cards sometimes indicate whether a student is Muslim, and will allow access to these dining areas, or will allow access on special occasions such as the Eid feast following Ramadan.

Famous Dishes

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Lamian

Lamian (Refer to image 2.) (simplified Chinese: 拉面traditional Chinese: 拉麵pinyin: lāmiàn) is a Chinese dish of hand-made noodles, usually served in a beef or mutton-flavored soup (湯麵 tāngmiàn), but sometimes stir-fried (炒麵 chǎomiàn) and served with a tomato-based sauce. Literally, 拉 (lā) means to pull or stretch, while 麵 (miàn) means noodle. The hand-making process involves taking a lump of dough and repeatedly stretching it to produce a single very long noodle.

Chuanr

Chuanr (Chinese :串儿, pinyin: chuànr (shortened from "chuan er"); "kebab"), originating in the Xinjiang (新疆) province of China and in recent years has been disseminated throughout the rest of that country, most notably in Beijing. It is a product of the Chinese Islamic cuisine of the Uyghur (维吾尔) people and other Chinese Muslims. Yang rou chuan, or lamb kebabs, is particularly popular.

Beef noodle soup

Beef noodle soup (Refer to image 3.) is a noodle soup dish composed of stewed beef, beef broth, vegetables and wheat noodles. It exists in various forms throughout East Asia and Southeast Asia. The most common Vietnamese version is called Bo kho, but which uses rice noodles instead. It was created by the Hui people during the Tang Dynasty of China.

In the West, this food may be served in a small portion as a soup. In China, a large bowl of it is often taken as a whole meal with or without any side dish.

Suan cai

Suan cai or Chinese Sauerkraut is a traditional Chinese cuisine vegetable dish used in a variety of ways. It consists of pickled Chinese cabbage. Suan cai is a unique form of pao cai due to the material used and the method of production. Although suan cai is not exclusively Chinese Islamic cuisine, it is used in Chinese Islamic cuisine to top off noodle soups, especially beef noodle soup.

Nang

Nang 馕 - A type of round unleavened bread, topped with sesame - similar to South and Central Asia naan.

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