Islam is the fastest-growing religion with an estimated global Muslim population of two billion. In many European countries, Muslims are poised to become the most significant minority population. And that population isn’t the same as it was 20 or 30 years ago. Today, Muslims are as cosmopolitan as anyone else and traveling in greater and greater numbers (particularly in Asia).
These travelers expect certain services to be available where they go, and wise businesses that want to tap into the market had better take notice. One area is Halal food. The growing culinary trend is in direct proportion to the growing population and mobilization of the group. Adding menu items and even entire outlets dedicated to this unique style of food can go a long way in helping one capture some of those travelers.
What is Halal Food?
Halal food simply means food permissible to be consumed by Muslims. It is not difficult to find or prepare (vegans and vegetarians have stricter rules on food consumption). Alcohol and pork (or anything derived from it) are not permissible. Meats must come from animals slaughtered according to Islamic regulation and ingredients derived from slaughtered animals must come from Halal sources. A large variety of fish and seafood are permissible. The following products are common in Halal menus: milk (from cows, sheep, camels, and goats); honey; fish; plants (non-intoxicant); fresh or naturally-frozen vegetables; fresh or dried fruits; nuts such as peanuts, cashew nuts, hazel nuts, walnuts, etc.; and grains such as wheat, rice, rye, barley, oat, etc. The meat from cows, sheep, goats, deer, moose, chickens, ducks, game, birds, etc. can also be Halal, but they must be Zabihah (slaughtered according to Islamic Rites) in order to be suitable for consumption.
Chef Manit Laemit of Bangkok’s newest and possibly only fine dining Halal venue in Bangkok, at the brand new Al Tara Halal & Vegetarian Restaurant of the Chaophya Park Hotel, stated that: “There are many things to keep in mind regarding Halal food, even when you wash the meat and ingredients. We have to let water pour through it three to seven times. Fish is easy as it has little blood but for things like beef, which is bloody, it can take some time. For food to be Halal, the person who handles food and its preparation must be Muslim. A Muslim will only trust a Halal food restaurant that is controlled by a Muslim chef.”
Chef Manit went on to add: “I think that when a hotel has Halal food, it’s a good way to attract guests; especially Muslim guests. Sometimes they will choose a hotel because it offers Halal food for them.”
Al Tara Halal and Vegetarian Restaurant will open in April 2010 and will provide a delicious array of pan-Asian cuisine including Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai, Indian, and Middle Eastern. All food items are prepared to strict Halal standards, and at-home or outside catering menus are available on request.
For further information, please contact Khun Srisak, director of food and beverage, tel: 0 2290 0125, ext. 7105 or Khun Tiroad, catering manager, ext. 7123.