Xining (ཟི་ལིང) Part I: Street Food


Crispy, spicy potato cakes, about 4” in diameter; small baked breads with turmeric powder and powdered fenugreek loaves seen in background.


Xining (ཟི་ལིང, Silung in Tibetan), the city I called home for five years before I left for England, is the capital of Qinghai Province on the Tibetan plateau (see photos of Xining here).

The province governs eight prefecture-level divisions – two prefecture-level cities, one Mongol and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and five Tibetan autonomous prefectures. One of the five, Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, is of course where I’m originally from.

Although Qinghai Province is ranked fourth largest in size with rich resources of oil, natural gas, and salt, it only houses about 5.6 million people and is third smallest by population.

Qinghai (ཨ༌མདོ, Amdo in Tibetan) is also the birthplace of the current Dalai Lama and the 10th Panchen Lama (the second highest rank in Tibetan Buddhism after the Dalai Lama).

Xining is a city of 2 million inhabitants. Because of 2,000 years of history, and many ethnic groups, including Chinese Han, Tibetans, Hui (Muslim), Tu/Monguors, Mongols and Salars (Oghuz Turks) and others who call it home, the city is a cultural hub, a melting pot.

And my favorite part of it was the food, the street food, indeed. My two sisters and I walked literally for only five minutes along Mojia Street in the center of the city and saw many appetizing goodies.


Subing pastries that melt in your month are filled with healthy ingredients like nuts, sesame seeds and bean paste.



Kebabs that are made of Yak meat, and chicken.



Deep-fried, crunchy, sweet goodies that the Hui (Muslim) ladies are so mastered in making. I literally can’t stop enjoying them.



Chinese Ma La Tang, meats, vegetables and tofu pieces skewered to cook in that hot, mouth-numbing liquid. I had this popular street food countless times in the past.



Tangbing, another deep-fried, sweet goodie, and stuffed sesame balls.



Sho or Suannai, made fresh daily, yogurt in bowls are calling you to sit right there and enjoy.



A colorful loaf of bread with a touch of sweetness that my sister fancied and brought some home.



Shagam or Niurou Gan, varieties of yak jerky: curried, spiced, mala and other flavors.



Mahua, often lightly sweetened, is another masterpiece of Hui (Musilm) ladies.


A very popular local dish, this savory pancake is called Gou Jiao Niao or Gou Jiao Niao Bing. It’s often multilayered with powdered fenugreek leaves and turmeric but also seasoned with sesame seeds, scallions and chili powder.

A very popular local dish, this savory pancake is called Gou Jiao Niao or Gou Jiao Niao Bing. It’s often multilayered with powdered fenugreek leaves and turmeric but also seasoned with sesame seeds, scallions and chili powder.


And what do you think?


And with your email address.

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10 Responses to Xining (ཟི་ལིང) Part I: Street Food

  1. Dominic September 8, 2014 at 3:57 AM #

    I’m hungry now!

  2. Steve O'Brien September 8, 2014 at 8:25 PM #

    This looks mind-blowingly good. Wow! What great food photography.

    • Jolma September 8, 2014 at 12:08 AM #

      Thank you, Steve. 🙂

  3. David Kasten September 8, 2014 at 9:23 PM #

    It all looks so yummy. It must be fun to been able to taste all the goodness.

    • Jolma September 8, 2014 at 12:10 AM #

      It was so much fun, Dave! Thank you.

  4. Jeff Hershberger September 13, 2014 at 8:55 PM #

    It all looks amazingly good. Now I want to try Gou Jiao Niao Bing in the worst way…

    Savory pancake….WANT WANT WANT! 8- )

    • Jolma September 14, 2014 at 12:13 AM #

      You should, Jeff. I will let you know when I share a recipe of this in the future.

  5. Sara Kingsley September 24, 2014 at 7:10 AM #

    I love your photos. You really have done a great job of bringing this food to us.
    The yogurt picture brought back to mind the taste of the homemade yogurt your mother gave us after dinner. So much better than store bought!

    • Jolma September 25, 2014 at 12:15 AM #

      Good memories, Sara. Homemade are much healthier also. I will be sharing with you the yogurt recipe in the future.


  1. Xining Part II: Street Food Market | Beyond Her Kitchen - September 12, 2014

    […] Continuing the topic of street goodies in Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province, food markets on the street are equally rich and interesting.[…]

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