What are some of the key elements of halal cuisine?
The word halal translates in Arabic to mean lawful or permissible. Halal foods are those which are allowed under Islamic dietary laws. It refers not only to the ingredients themselves but also how foods are prepared. For example, halal cuisine must be both alcohol and pork free. In addition the meat (beef, lamb, chicken, etc.) must be slaughtered to halal standards.
This means foods made with gelatin, pure or artificial vanilla extract prepared with alcohol, or products such as canned beans or lentils with pork would not be considered halal. Foods that don’t meet halal standards are also known as haram which translates to unlawful in Arabic.
Describe your favourite halal dish
My favourite dishes by far are steak and butter chicken. Butter chicken is an Indian cuisine classic that can be very satisfying. My favourite local shop for ingredients is House of Halal on Dutch Village Road in Halifax. They have provided halal meats and other products for over a decade!
Did you have any difficulty finding ingredients for halal cuisine when you moved to Nova Scotia?
Yes we did find difficulty finding ingredients when we moved to Nova Scotia but with the growth of our diverse groups this is less of an issue. Now there are many more shops that sell halal certified foods including some Sobeys, Superstores and Costco. Even certain processors such as Maple Lodge Farms have developed halal lines for the Muslim community.
Where do you go for food inspiration?
My favourite site for inspiration is fatafeat which is the Arabic version of the food network. It is a great destination for many different recipes.
What foodie words should we know if we come to dinner at your house?
Two Arabic phrases we use at my house are sahtayeen and bil afya. You would use both of them in the same way you would say bon appetite. Sahtayeen means double health and bil afya is a wish for good health and well-being.
Interested in learning more about halal cuisine? Visit the following sites for more information and inspiration:
Guide to understanding halal foods: https://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/~facilities/documents/GuidetoHalalFoods.pdf
Eat halal: http://www.eat-halal.com/
Canadian halal foods: http://www.canadianhalalfoods.com/home.html