Laghman, or noodles with vegetables and spices (Uyghur)

An Uyghur dish sounds very interesting, doesn’t it? Even better if you know who they are. The Uyghurs are an ethnic group of Turkic people living in Eastern and Central Asia, mostly in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China, but also in other parts of China and several other nearby countries. Their total number isn’t known, but estimated to be about 10-20 million. The Uyghurs are thought to be of about 50/50 Asian and European ancestry. Most of them are Sufi muslims. They have a culture dating back several millennia and also practice their own medicine, similar to Chinese medicine.

The Uyghur cuisine is dominated by meat dishes, especially mutton, often formed into kebabs and pies. Dairy foods are also popular. Common vegetables include celery, eggplant, cabbage, onions, peppers, carrots and tomatoes. Honey, raisins, sesame seeds, almonds and olives are used to add flavour. Both rice and noodles are eaten, as is naan bread. Food is often flavoured with cumin and chili. Tea is very popular.

Laghman is an Uyghur noodle dish which usually features mutton, but this recipe was vegetarian. It’s quite a simple dish, nothing terribly exiting, but nice and flavourful without being very spicy.



handful of dried soy protein (TVP) (or some other meat substitute)
2-3 tbsp oil for frying
1 tsp whole coriander seeds, crushed (or 1 tsp coriander power)
a few black peppercorns, ground
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 tsp crushed dried red chili
1 star anise
1 large potato, peeled and chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1 tsp vegetable stock powder or 1/2 vegetable stock cube or 1 tsp yeast extract
3 tbsp soy sauce
fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped

Soak the soy protein in some water until hydrated, about 15-30 minutes. Heat the oil in a fying pan and fry the coriander seeds and peppercorns for a few seconds. Add the onion and fry until it starts to brown. Add the garlic, chili and star anise. Fry for a few minutes, then add all the other vegetables and the soy protein.

Cover the pan and simmer for 5-8 minutes. Add some water so that everything is well covered, the stock/yeast extract and the soy sauce. Simmer for about half an hour.

Add the chopped coriander and mix well. Serve with noodles. Makes 3-4 portions.

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