In Xinjiang, no matter where you go, you could find Nang, a kind of crusty pancake. It is also the main food of Xinjiang people. “Nang” is the pronunciation in Uyghur Language and if translated into English it is toasted crusty pancake.
No rice for one day is ok to Uyghur people but no Nang for one day is intolerable for them. In country area almost each family has the Pit Oven to toast Nang. And all married ladies are good at Nang toasting. Pit Oven is usually dug in the family’s courtyard or next to the house gate. The insider wall of the Pit Oven is smeared with mixture of soil and wheat straw hood. When toasting Nang, firstly put the dried firewood into the pit and light them to heat the pit. When the insider of the pit gets burning hot stick the round flan of the Nang onto the insider wall. The flan of the Nang can be as big as the face of round stool or as small as the rim of the bowl. Brushing some plant oil or putting some seasame and chopped scallion pieces to the flan the Nang will be more crisp and delicious.
Since the Nang is the toasted pancake, it can be preserved for tens of days without going bad in the dry Xinjiang area. If add some cooking oil into the flan when making the dough, the Nang can be kept for even 1 months.
In past Nang is the must-have thing for almost each Uyghur people who is out of home. The longer they were out of home the more Nang they would bring. In that way they could save quite some travel cost. Even today homemade Nang is the favorable food for Uyghur people who travel to other places.
There is an important rule when eating Nang: No matter what kind of Nang you eat, you should break it into several pieces instead of cutting it with knife. Why? Some people think it is the tradition of Uyghur people. Break a Nang with their hands and share it with other people means share bliss and misfortune together.
Uyghur people also regard Nang as the mascot and the carrier of happiness. In Uyghur marriage custom, when the boy’s family propose marriage to the girl’s family, the clothes, salt, candy, and five Nangs are the must bring things. And in the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom need to hare a small piece of Nang which means they will participate each other’s suffering and joy in their rest life.