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14 Incredibly Flavorful Uyghur Recipes Everyone Needs To Try

From braised chicken and noodles to buttery hand pies, there's something for everyone.

Various Uyghur recipes
Kathy Hoang / BuzzFeed

Found at the edge of China, Uyghur cuisine is defined by rich, hearty flavors.

The cuisine shares its main dishes with many of its Turkic, East Asian, and Central Asian neighbors. Lamb takes a central role in Uyghur dishes, while pork is completely absent — as a majority of the Uyghur people identify as Muslim.

From hand-pulled noodles and meat pies to bread and flour pudding and Uyghur-style bagels, read on to get a taste of Uyghur cuisine.

1. Samsa (Hand Pies)

A bowl of samsa

What is it? Flaky, tender, and buttery, these meat hand pies are baked, not fried, and usually made with lamb. They're enjoyed in many parts of Central Asia, including Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, as well as the Xinjiang Uyghur region of China.

Recipe: Samsa (Hand Pies)

2. Laghman Noodles

Two bowls of Laghman noodles

What is it? Hand-pulled noodles served with a colorful and flavorful mix of eggplant, onion, peppers, tomato, and garlic ragù.

Recipe: Laghman noodles

3. Kawaplar (Lamb Skewers)

A plate of kawaplar

What is it? Lamb skewers rubbed with a spicy, gloriously mouth-numbing mix of Sichuan peppercorns, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, garlic, and more. As always, feel free to swap out the lamb for beef if it's not available near you.

Recipe: Kawaplar (Lamb Skewers)

4. Sangza (Deep-Fried Noodles)

5. Ququre (Uyghur "Tortellini")

What is it? Boiled dumplings made with lamb, onion, and other vegetables. It's often served in a soup.

Recipe: Ququre (Uyghur "Tortellini")

6. Polo (Pilaf)

A bowl of polo (pilaf)

What is it? One of the most popular dishes in Uyghur cuisine, this pilaf is traditionally made with carrots, onions, cumin powder, raisins, and a hefty portion of lamb meat. The recipe calls for cooking the meat first, then steaming it with the rice — for a final result of juicy and tender meat and super-savory rice.

Recipe: Polo (pilaf)

7. Quymaq (Flour and Bread Pudding)

8. Uyghur Naan

9. Shurpa (Lamb Soup)

A bowl of lamb soup

What is it? This lamb and vegetable soup comes together easily with browned meat and roughly chopped carrots, potatoes, bell peppers, and onions. It's often served with samsas (meat hand pies).

Recipe: Shurpa (Lamb Soup)

10. Da Pan Ji (Braised Chicken and Noodles)

A bowl of braised chicken and noodles

What is it? Translating to "Big Plate Chicken," this simple dish consists of braised chicken served on a bed of noodles. It's simple and craveworthy, and is served in many cities in China beyond the Xinjiang region.

Recipe: Da Pan Ji (Braised Chicken and Noodles)

11. Uyghur-Style Fried Chicken

Uyghur-style fried chicken with dip on the side

What is it? This fried chicken isn't exactly native to Xinjiang but its spice rub is. Consisting of cumin, chili, Sichuan peppercorns, and garlic powder, the mix is spicy and rich.

Recipe: Uyghur-Style Fried Chicken

12. Manti (Steamed Dumplings)

A plate of manti garnished with fresh herbs

What is it? Steamed dumplings are nothing new but as the Mongol Empire (which once included China) is sometimes cited as their birthplace, this Uyghur iteration is as authentic as it gets. This recipe uses ground meat and pumpkin for a nourishing and filling meal.

Recipe: Manti (Steamed Dumplings)

13. Nokot (Chickpea Salad)

A plate of chickpea salad

What is it? A chickpea salad fragrantly infused with chopped herbs and carrots, then drizzled with a sweet ginger-vinegar dressing.

Recipe: Nokot (Chickpea Salad)

14. Girde Naan (Uyghur Bagels)

A basket of Uyghur bagels

What is it? Xinjiang might be thousands of miles away from NYC, but these bagel-like breads sport the same glossy sheen. Unlike bagels though, these are crunchier on the outside and fluffier on the inside, and the hole doesn't actually go all the way through. Oh, and there's no cream cheese here — these are eaten with jam and butter, or dunked in soup.

Recipe: Girde Naan (Uyghur Bagels)

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BuzzFeed / Kathy Hoang