20th April 2016
Xi’an Muslim Food Street area is the collective name for a number of streets, including Beiyuanmen Street, North Guangji Street, Xiyangshi Street and Dapiyuan Street, and it is known for its profound Muslim cultural atmosphere. It is the hub of the Muslim community in Xian City, Shaanxi Province.
Xi’an was the starting point of the ancient Silk Road 1,000 years ago in the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-9 AD). A number of merchants and overseas students from the Arabic countries and Persia went to Xi’an for business and studying since the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-9 AD); they settled down on the present Muslim Street, and they were called the “Hui people” by the locals. One generation after another, the descendants of the Hui ethnic people multiplied and lived on the street, and the number has now reached over 60,000.
This street is paved with dark colored stone and green trees providing heavy shade during summer; the buildings on both sides of the street are modeled on the styles of both the Ming (1368-1644) and the Qing Dynasties (1644-1911). It has restaurants, food stalls and souvenir shops all owned by Muslims serving halal food.
There is a variety of food here from barbecue meat, deep fried fish and octopuses to paye with naan (very lahori style), fresh noodles being made live and a great variety of breads (plain and some stuffed with meat). Various sweets are also available and the candy stretching and beating is done live on the street. We also get fresh juices of seasonal fruits and ice lollies. Huge range of dry fruits is also available and roasting of walnuts is also done on the street. Walnuts and dates in china are much larger than the ones we get in Pakistan. Dry spices and chutnies are also sold on the street.
Many other dishes are also served, but due to language barrier it was difficult to ask and understand.
We see most of the food stalls are run by women with head scarfs/ hijabs. And men are seen with white caps to distinguish themselves as Muslims. A few old men are seen with typical Chinese beards like we see in old Chinese movies.
Coming from a Muslim majority country and visiting China (a communist country) I never imagined witnessing all this.
‘Religion is the opium of the people,’ said Karl Marx
Muslims here practice their religion openly without any pressure from government. There are mosques and people offer their 5 times prayers and all other Islamic rituals. Muslims living here are practicing Muslims.
Dry fruit shops
Candy stretching, beating and cutting
Spices and Chutnies
Barbecue meat on interesting sticks
Deep fried meats
lamb’s hoofs stew /Paye (lahori style)
Very delicious looking pudding kind of sweet dish, they cut it in the triangular shape and put a stick in it and some more sauce if required.
There was a lot more being served but due to language barrier I was unable to get their names.
Beggars on the street are all very old people