Sunday 7 March 2021 \


Eating the Halal outta Sydney

"Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are" – Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin.

By Zeynab Gamieldien

Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are – Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin.
This oft-quoted saying has special meaning for Muslims, given that our religion pervades into every aspect of our life – and food is no exception. At times, living in a Western country can be difficult precisely for that reason.

But as more and more Muslims migrated to Australia, the demand for food that is both Halal and delicious increased. We no longer have to live off falafel sandwiches and vegetarian Dominos.

This is where I come in.

For as long as I can remember, food has been a constant source of joy in my life. I attribute my love of food to my mother – who was so obsessed with friands at one stage that she wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald requesting recipes – and her mother before her, who was such a good cook that she would sell traditional South African sweets to the community in her spare time.

I come from a long line of bakers, food-makers and second-portion-takers, without whom I would never know paella from risotto or how to ensure couscous doesn’t clump (stir with a fork and a knob of butter, in case you were wondering).

While I personally don’t cook very often I know good food when I eat it. On average I eat out two to three times a week, which makes me both very poor and very happy. There’s no cuisine I won’t try and no hygiene standard I won’t break in my pursuit of all things tasty. The only standards I’m not willing to break are those imposed by Islam – but that is less of a hindrance and more an opportunity to get creative with my food choices.

Islam regulates our eating habits as it does with all areas of life: rationally, reasonably and with a great deal of wisdom. I have never suffered for lack of a ‘forbidden’ food, and I hope that this weekly column will demonstrate to both Muslims and non-Muslims that there are plenty of options available for the savvy Halal-hunter. These include not only Halal-specific eateries, but also those that unintentionally cater for Muslims with plenty of vegetarian and or seafood options.

This section will be the weekly chronicle of my food journey through Sydney. Starting on Friday inshaAllah, I’ll share my experiences, good and bad, and together we’ll sort the Kebab Kings from the Doner Duds in a quest that is gratifying but never gluttonous.

Until next time, happy eating!



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