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Shanghai Street Food #17 Mutton Polo

Every Friday morning after morning prayers at the Huxi Mosque on Changde Lu, Shanghai’s weekly Muslim Market starts up, a meeting place for the city’s predominately Islamic Uyghur population. The Uyghurs hail from Xinjiang, in far north-western China, and their cuisine is more closely associated with Central Asia – mutton, flatbreads, kebabs, samsa (samosas) and rice, flavoured with chili, cumin and pepper. The market is only small but has a great selection of foods on offer, and I’ll write more about these in a coming post. 

One of the popular dishes at the market is mutton polo پولۇ (pilaf). This man is cooking an enormous pan full of delicious savoury rice, flavoured with shreds of sweet carrot and studded with plump Xinjiang sultanas, and topped with chunks of flavoursome lamb as soft as butter. The lamb (or mutton) has to be quite fatty so that the polo can be flavoured by the melted fat.

You can sit alongside the stall on tiny plastic stools and eat your bowl of polo (10 yuan/bowl) with a steaming glass of Xinjiang tea. The markets have become a magnet for Shanghai’s expat population who like the food of far north-west China, much to the interest and amusement of the Uyhgur customers, like this family below who spent some time intently watching us eat then photographed us all with their own children. They distracted me so much I forgot to take a close-up photo of my delicious pilaf before I’d eaten the whole lot! 
Shanghai Friday Muslim Market, from 11am
Changde Lu in between Aomen Lu and Yichang Lu

常德路,近澳门路和宜昌路


Enjoy some more street food here!



The Shanghai Street Food Series

Number 1   Roast Sweet Potatoes
Number 2   Snack-on-a-stick 
Number 3   Liangpi – a spicy cold noodle dish
Number 4   Langzhou Lamian – hand-pulled noodles
Number 5   Cong You Bing – fried shallot pancakes
Number 6   Baozi – steamed buns, Shanghai style
Number 7   Jian Bing – the famous egg pancake
Number 8   Dan Gao – street cakes
Number 9   Shao mai – sticky rice treats
Number 10  Summer on a Stick – fresh fruits

Number 11  You Tiao – deep-fried breadsticks
Number 12  Dan Juan – egg rolls
Number 13  Shao Kao – street barbecue
Number 14  Bao Mi Hua – exploding rice flowers
Number 15  Chou Doufu – stinky tofu
Number 16  Bing Tang Shan Zha – crystal sugar hawthorns
Number 17  Mutton Polo
Number 18  Yumi Bang – puffed corn sticks
Number 19  Mian Hua Tang – cotton candy
Number 20  You Dunzi – fried radish cakes

Number 21  Suzhou Shi Yue Bing – homestyle mooncakes 
Number 22  Gui Hua Lian’ou – honeyed lotus root stuffed with sticky rice
Number 23  Cong You Ban Mian – scallion oil noodles
Number 24  Guotie – potsticker dumplings
Number 25  Nuomi Cai Tou – fried clover pancakes
Number 26  Da Bing, Shao Bing – sesame breakfast pastries
Number 27  Ci Fan – sticky rice breakfast balls
Number 28  Gui Hua Gao – steamed osmanthus cake
Number 29  Zongzi – bamboo leaf wrapped sticky rice
Number 30  Shengjianbao – pan-fried dumplings

Number 31  Mala Tang – DIY spicy soup

  • http://croquecamille.wordpress.com/ croquecamille

    Sounds delicious, and I'm fascinated with the "lesser-known" ethnic cuisines of China. Thanks for researching and sharing them with us! 🙂

  • http://theweatherincascadia.blogspot.com christine

    I'm new to your blog, and I must say I love the photos and insight into Chinese culture. I know so little about China. Thank you for sharing!

  • https://www.blogger.com/profile/11390453342365399230 Fiona

    Nice to meet you Christine, feel free to stop by anytime! China was a big mystery to me too before I arrived, possibly it's now an even bigger mystery, and growing more mysterious each day….:)

  • fiona’smum

    Great photo of the polo/pilaf. It had my mouth watering and I could smell the food cooking. More to the point, what is in the portable barbeque drum under the big pot?

  • https://www.blogger.com/profile/11390453342365399230 Fiona

    Thanks mum! The drum under the pan is to hous the gas burner or charcoal brazier to keep the pan warm. Now that I look at it again it is kind of precariously balanced…..