Organizers of a new London street food festival have proven that halal food can be much more than a plate of rice and meat.
Zohra Khaku, an entrepreneur based in London, started the festival to highlight the best of what London street food has to offer.
We wanted to prove that London is the best place for street food from around the world, showing the great diversity we have among the people in London, reflected in the food available in this great city,” Khaku, a former housemate on the BBC’s reality TV show Muslims Like Us, told HuffPost.
What is halal?
Halal means “permissible” in Arabic. Food is deemed to be halal when it is prepared in accordance with Islamic law. This largely applies to how meat is derived.
Islamic law requires animals to be alive and healthy during slaughtering, which should be swift and cause the animal the least amount of pain possible. A Muslim person must perform the slaughter and recite a prayer, known as the tasmiya or shahada, while killing the animal.
Rise in demand for halal food
Around the world, the demand for halal food and Islamic fashion has risen sharply in recently with the growth of the global Muslim population. The halal food industry is already worth some $20 billion in the U.S., and the Dubai Chamber of Commerce estimates it could be worth $1.6 trillion globally by 2018.
. Khaku, who runs the foodie website and app Halal Gems, says it’s all too common to see people interpreting halal food in the same ways over and over.
Limited choices of food as inspiration to start food app
“When you go on an airline and you order a halal meal, it’s always curry,” she said. “And that really bothers me because, to be honest, I don’t like curry that much. And if I’m going to eat curry, I might as well eat the curry that’s at home because it’s great.”
And that’s where Halal Gems comes in. Khaku quit her job in finance several years ago to turn her foodie passion into a website, magazine and mobile app aimed at guiding people to amazing halal food experiences around the UK.
This first Street Eats festival, held at London’s Old Spitalfields Market on July 28 and 29, housed 26 sellers that served up a wide range of the world’s dishes with some creative twists.