The history of halal food in China began in the Tang and Song dynasty. The diet came with Arabian and Persian merchants. With time, Muslim cuisines have inherited a lot of Chinese cooking methods, such as steaming, stewing, and roasting.
In China, halal food is prepared under strict observation of the Islamic dietary rules. Due to this, chicken, mutton, and lamb are the main ingredients. And despite the many cultures in China, halal food in China has managed to retain its characteristics and style.
Different regions will have their versions of halal food characteristic to the region’s people. For instance, when visiting Lanzhou, the main halal food will be beef lamian (hand-pulled noodles). On the other hand, Xinjiang is famous for lamb kebabs.
What are some halal foods in China?
In China, halal food is called Qingzhen Cai. Due to the high population of Muslims in the country, Muslim restaurants are widely available. Most of these restaurants are under the care of Muslims who migrated from the West.
Thus, when you enter a halal restaurant in China, you do not need to worry about the oil used or whether they prepare pig products in the kitchen. Once your food is on the table, you can say your bismillah and dig into your food.
Some of the most popular halal foods in China include:
Most Chinese halal foods combine Middle-Eastern flavors and traditional Chinese cooking styles. Some foods also include Chinese cuisines and drinks, giving them a unique touch you cannot find anywhere in the world.
Lamb kebabs are the favorite halal food in China. The sweet aroma is free advertising for the merchants who prepare the lamb kebabs at market stands and street carts. These lamb kebabs blend flavors from South Asia, the Middle East, and regions of China. As a result, you can enjoy some savory and spicy lamb kebabs that leave tingles in your mouth.
The ingredients for preparation mainly include lamb shoulder, onions, canola oil, soy sauce, cornstarch, cumin, chili powder, salt, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper.
If you want to enjoy delicious lamb kebabs in China, you can find them all over the streets of Xinjiang.
Chicken and lamb with rice
Most halal foods in China draw their origin from the Middle-eastern, Mediterranean, and Turkish cuisines. Luckily, you can find many of these delicacies in the many halal restaurants around China. There are several Arab, Moroccan, Egyptian and Turkish restaurants in major Chinese cities. You can get the taste in these places that transport you to the motherland.
Besides these restaurants’ attractive menus, you can enjoy chicken and lamb dishes with rice. The ingredients, including fresh mutton/chicken, carrots, vegetable oil, and rice, come together in a beautiful combination that leaves you full yet wanting more.
Lamb with rice is a staple food in Xinjiang Uyghur, which you can enjoy in any of the halal restaurants in the region. However, China’s best rice with lamb is from Beijing Restaurant, Talimu Uighur Restaurant, or Chongqing Qingjuzhai Halal Restaurant.
Another common item on Muslim restaurant menus is a hot pot. You get a steaming pot at the center of your dining table when you order this dish.
The broth on the hot is savory but not spicy. However, if you like hot food, you can request spicy broth. To place the order, you buy the raw ingredients by plate. You can choose your meat from the beef, mutton, and seafood options available in the restaurants.
As usual, no hot pot is complete without vegetables. So, you also choose your favorite combination from the variety of vegetables on the menu. Mushrooms, noodles, and tofu are also available to accompany the hot pot.
You can also get dipping sauce, usually sesame sauce, to which you can add chili, garlic, or cilantro to your preference. The meat is carefully cut into lovely, beautiful, red pieces that cook in under a minute in your hot pot.
For other ingredients that could take a long, you have to dip them into the boiling broth and wait for some time for them to cook. Once ready, take the piece out, dip it in the sauce and enjoy.
In China, you can enjoy halal hot pot from one of the best restaurants in China, Donglianshun Hot Pot, which you can find in all big cities in the country.
Roasted whole lamb
If you are a Muslim touring Xinjiang Province, you might want to try their roasted whole lamb. Although it is available in the largest cities in China, it is most popular in Xiangjiang.
The recipe includes unique ingredients and cooking techniques. Usually, chefs mix water, flour, and yolk with ginger, pepper, and salt. They then cover the whole lamb with the mixture. The lamb is then baked in the oven for around an hour.
Next comes trimming, which happens around the neck. When eating, you will need a knife to cut off the mutton from the lamb.
Halal food requirements in China are quite strict. This is mainly because Islam is not new to the country. So, before anyone can open a halal food restaurant in China, they need a halal certificate, which they get from the local Ethics and Religious Affairs Office. Also, the city performs regular inspections to maintain compliance. For this reason, you can enter a halal restaurant and order anything on the menu without worrying about haram practices or ingredients in your meal.