XINJIANG: Lunch at Ajehan’s

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We started the day at  Jiaohe, a 3,000-year old desert dwelling, then moved on to see historical relics and rhino fossils at the Turpan Musuem before making a stop at the Turpan Water Museum to understand Karez, the mind-boggling ancient underground irrigation system.

Upon emerging from the ancient karez, Agnes and I hurriedly bargained and bought some of the best raisins we’ve tasted. Xinjiang is famous for it’s grapes, today we have driven pass a 150km-length of vineyards but didn’t have a chance to take a closer look. But this longing was soon satisfied.

Lunch was at a traditional Uighur family house right next door to the water museum. Our host, Ajehan, his wife and 2 kids live in this beautiful family home with his parents while his twin brother who works in the city would drop by on Sundays.

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Our first course, the Xinjiang Polo (our briyani) was a little too sweet for Agnes and Stevie while I truly welcomed them as my first familiar comfort food. The extremely dry climate begets sweeter produce; I find their yellow and orange carrot very delicious and mistaken them for pumpkin. While we were rating their home-made raisins from last season’s harvest, Ajehan and wife were busy cooking up our next course, the laghmen noodle, or ramen.

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The Xinjiang Laghmen, the staple that we have learnt to love but later overdosed on.

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Xinjiang boasts the best, plumiest, and sweetest tomatoes, really delicious.

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The briyani here is no match to our Malaysian ones, no chunky generous lamb and the rice is not the long fluffy basmathi.

hakkachan
hakkachan

I really liked the idea of outdoor dining, eating under a canopy of grape vines was truly unbelievable. Naans, assortment of raisins, bright golden dried pineapples for appetisers were all neatly placed in the centre of our dining table, a very unique one. It was a large rectangle table stacked up on another carpeted larger rectangular platform.

hakkachan
hakkachan

It was pleasant to discover during Stevie’s short chat that a Malaysian filmmaker has actually made a short film here and Ajehan played a speaking part.

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Margaux bright and cheery on the 2nd day of our Xinjiang travel.

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We had a relaxing time there, and I almost doze off after such a hearty meal. It was the best local meal we had throughout the travel and in my next few postings, you will understand why.

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We then bade farewell, made our final visit to a clean modern toilet (which is a rarity here), and then off to our much anticipated destination, Kumtagh Desert, Shan Shan.

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