Learning about halal? – Halal Festival

This was my first time attending a Halal festival and I am glad I went along as not only was it an excellent event but I also learnt a lot about Halal food and discovered that not all of their food is spicy in which I always believed was.

Firstly what does Halal mean? In short, the word Halal, in Arabic, means permitted or lawful. Halal foods are foods that are allowed under Islamic dietary guidelines. Muslims cannot consume the following foods Pork, animals that were dead prior to slaughtering, animals not slaughtered properly or not slaughtered in the name of Allah, blood and blood by-products, alcohol, carnivorous animals, birds of prey, land animals without external ears as these are prohibited foods and ingredients are called haram, meaning forbidden in Arabic. All animals have to be slaughtered in a humane way. As all Muslims are taught through the Qu’ran that all animals should all be treated with respect and be well cared for. Therefore the goal in halal style butchery is to slaughter the animal in a manner which will limit the amount of pain the animal will endure. When any animal is slaughtered, the jugular vein is cut and the blood is allowed to drain from the animal. This practice is done because Muslims are prohibited from consuming animal blood. Muslim population has grown in the UK over the decades and now it is more easier to find Halal.

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Onto the festival, this was the second year for the Halal Festival to pop-up in London. It was held in Tobacco Docks and there were so many stands to discover all selling various food and drink plus there were also a few non consumable stands such as a henna stand where you could get your hands beautifully decorated.

Attending the festival this year was two MasterChef winners Saliha Mahmood-Ahmed who won Masterchef this year 2017 and Shelina Permalloo who won Masterchef back in 2012 plus other top chefs such as Abdul Yaseen who owns Darbaar restaurant. They each held live cooking sessions in the Tariq Halal Cookery Theatre. I never watched any of the cooking sessions though unfortunately as I was busy discovering and speaking to all the various stall owners finding out more about their Halal products. I discovered a lot about the process of Halal food and found out that in fact there are now lots of places in where you can buy Halal food from such as supermarkets and even dedicated Halal butchers. There were so many food stalls dotted around giving tastings and serving amazing food such as Moroccan tagines, sushi burritos, sourdough pizza, candyfloss, churros. You can even buy pre-made pre-packed food from supermarkets and online such as Oceans Best, Haloodies and Angel Bay who all were exhibiting at the Halal Festival. The aroma of all the grilled meats and spices emanating from the stalls was so intoxicating and made it very hard to resist! I got to taste and sample many food items that I would never usually eat and I was very impressed and highly pleased to know that not all Halal food is spicy as I am not into spicy food.

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I also discovered that Muslims don’t drink alcohol but they have an alternative of 0.0% alcoholic drinks instead. One stand the Azanti (www.azanti.co.uk) was selling and demonstrating their 0.0% alcoholic wines which is a UK brand of French Superior Drinks Ltd. I must admit I was highly surprised in how it tasted and it certainly made me think about buying some of their delicious wine/drink in the future rather than actually drinking alcoholic wine this is a great substitute and one that really does taste so good and looks amazing especially the Gold Arabesque drink with its bright golden colour, fizz and 24 carat gold flakes. It had an intense fruity and floral aromas and subtle notes of vanilla and hazelnut. Gold Arabesque looks so luxury it is the ideal drink to serve at any sophisticated party.

Whilst at the festival I also went and watched the Halal Eat Offs which was funny to watch as the challengers (a woman, two kids and a man) had to eat very spicy food in a very short amount of time. Whoever ate the most by the end of the challenge was the winner. I felt so sorry for the two girls as one of them at the end the spiciness of the food had got to her so much she was literally crying and chocking for water, water and more water. The man won the challenge but due to the child suffering so much after the whole eating ordeal he gave his Homer Simpson t-shirt to her after a bit of pursuance from the audience).

I really enjoyed myself at the festival and I discovered and learnt a lot about Halal food. In fact it has even made me think now about what meats I should really purchase in future as I am passionate about animals but I however unfortunately do love meat but I never really thought about the process of the meat. Now I would like to be under the knowledge that the animals I eat was slaughtered in a more quicker and humane way.

I will certainly be visiting again next year and highly recommend you do to.

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