Kudret Yakup, a Uyghur restaurateur in New York City, talks with a Vice reporter about Uyghur food. Watch the entire video to learn more about Uyghur cuisine, or skip to [timestamp] to hear Kudret talk about how much he misses naan.

Uyghur food is popular in many countries and renowned by many as the greatest of the Central Asian cuisines. Some of the most beloved dishes include laghman, hand-pulled noodles topped with lamb and vegetables; polu, savory rice pilaf with lamb and carrots; kawap (kabob), skewered meats; goshnan, a fried or baked bread stuffed with meat; and naan, tandoor-baked bread. 


Some of the staples of Uyghur cuisine are evidence of close ties between Uyghurs and peoples to the West of their homeland, in Central Asia, the Middle East, and beyond. At the same time, Uyghurs have used special spices and techniques to make their cuisine unique. 


Naan is central to the Uyghur diet. Many meals include naan, and a lot of people love to start off their day by eating this oven-baked bread for breakfast, dipped into etken chay (salty milk tea) or spread with honey or jam. 


Uyghurs see naan as a source of life and treat it with respect. For example, parents teach their children never to throw naan away, even if it’s stale. Instead, they find creative ways to use it so it doesn’t go to waste. Uyghurs also believe that naan should never touch the ground. If you accidentally drop naan, you should pick it up and raise it above your head three times. 


Uyghurs take great pride in the cuisine, language, and music that form their rich culture. Their language belongs to the family of Turkic languages spoken throughout Central Asia and Turkey.


To learn more about Uyghurs: