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How does naan taste in a century-old naan store in the old town of Kashgar, NW China’s Xinjiang?

Shiliuyun-Xinjiang Daily (Reporter Jia Chunxia) news: There is a century-old naan store in the western part of the old town of Kashgar, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Although it is a naan store with only a few square meters facing the street, it has attracted tourists in an endless stream.

Photo shows the century-old naan store attracts tourists in an endless stream in the old town of Kashgar, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

On September 11, 2023, reporters came to this naan store and saw lanterns, bamboo baskets, gourds, and a portrait of an elderly man with white hair and beard hanging on the store. Many kinds of naan such as naan with rose sauce, naan with raisins, naan with pepper and naan with walnuts are piled high in baskets, and tourists lined up to buy them. A young guy named Buhelqam Ali kept packing various naan for tourists. Outside the store, there were tourists sitting on wooden stools and tasting freshly baked naan, some sitting on carpeted kang (a traditional adobe sleeping platform designed for warmth and comfort) for entertainment, and some tourists came here to take photos, with laughter echoing one after another.

Photo shows tourists take photos at the century-old naan store in the old town of Kashgar, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. (Shiliuyun-Xinjiang Daily/ Jia Chunxia)

At the table in front of the store, 35-year-old Wumarjan Tudi and his apprentice were busy. Wumarjan used a rolling pin to roll the dough into thin, evenly proportioned, and moderately sized flatbreads. Then he pinched a thick edge on it and gave it to his apprentice. His apprentice poked naan with a tool, then sprinkled chopped onions, cumin on it, and gave it to the naan baker. The baker put naan on the tray, dipped his right hand in salt water and sprinkled the back of the naan and the inner wall of naan pit a few times, and put naan on hot inner wall of naan pit. In a short while, the delicious naan were baked.

Photo shows Wumarjan and his apprentice make naan in the old town of Kashgar, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. (Shiliuyun-Xinjiang Daily/ Jia Chunxia)

While making naan, Wumarjan told reporters that his family has been living in the old town of Kashgar for generations and making a living by making naan. This store has a history of over a hundred years, and he is the seventh generation inheritor. “At present, there are 7 stuff members in our store. We open from 9 am to 1 am and sell various kinds of naan in a total about 2,000 per day. In addition, we have to send about 50 boxes of naan, 25 per box, across the country every day."

What is the secret to have such a booming business? Wumarjan said that there are two key point to making delicious naan. The first one is good materials, and the other is the great making skills. “When mixing flour, we put at least 120 eggs, 5 kilograms of milk and 3 kilograms of edible vegetable oil in 25 kilograms of flour. The temperature of the naan pit is also important, the temperature cannot be too high or too low when the naan is put into it.” In addition, in order to achieve standardized production, each naan is weighed to ensure consistency in weight, and filling materials which were carefully selected such as roses sauce and walnuts. The prices of the naan are affordable, except for chili naan, which costs 4 yuan, and the rest of them are priced at 3 yuan.

Wumarjan thinks that the reason they can sell their naan to various parts of the country is closely related to their store’s location, the old town of Kashgar. Previously, their customers were mainly locals, and their sales had not been able to increase. In 2015, the old town of Kashgar was rated as a national 5A level tourist attraction, and tourist reception has been increasing year by year. Wumarjan and his brothers were keenly aware of this opportunity and constantly made innovations on the basis of original naan, creating multiple varieties such as naan with raisins, walnuts, chili and milk naan. The long history, quaint style, delicious naan and affordable price... Through tourists and online platforms, this store has become increasingly popular and has become a must-visit place for tourists.

Tourist Xiong Xiong from Gansu Province and his family traveled to Kashgar. After being recommended by their friend, they went to the store and bought a few naan. They couldn't help but buy another box of naan and sent them home. “Naan in this store is crispy outside and soft inside, with a thin and crispy middle part. They taste good and the price is also affordable. We want to bring them to our relatives and friends.”

Although busy from morning to night every day, the demand for naan still exceeds supply. Wumarjan has a new plan, "Next year, we will find a better location in the scenic spot and open a branch, preparing to create a chain brand.”

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