Travelling as a family, we have always carried food since we are not very adventurous in terms of what we eat. Regardless of that, two other factors can sometimes be difficult in a foreign country; finding halaal food and finding affordable food so instead we carry food to avoid the issue. In recent travels, we have become more accustomed to trying local cuisine in different countries. Below is my top 3 favourite cities and how to find halaal food.
If there was one place we regretted carrying food to, it was Istanbul. Besides being affordable, a variety of halaal food between fast foods and restaurants were available. I contacted Gimdez, a halaal affiliate of Sanha based in Turkey before I left. I was informed that they do not certify restaurants but most places are halaal as long as they do not sell alcohol. Start the day of with a Simit (Turkish bagel) from a cart vendor and cup of Sahlep (a milk and cinnamon drink that tastes a bit like milk tart). Pides and Gozlemes are found at every local bakery. The famous Salt Bae restaurant, Nusret, popular for their steaks is a must see with all the interesting ways in serving your food. Kumpir a stuffed baked potato can be purchased at Potatoes. Esmer Chef, had really delicious pizzas situated on Istiklal Street. Galata Sarniç Café, located under the Galata Bridge had a very nice vibe and served non-alcoholic beverages as well as delicious fish and chips. Burgerillas, had the most delicious burgers. Hafez Mustafa has the best Turkish delight, I tried the baklava and pomegranate tea but I didn’t really enjoy it.
This is my favourite city in the World, with its intriguing architecture and fascinating attractions, there is always something for the whole family to do .The best way to see the city is on a Hop on Hop off bus. Finding halaal food isn’t really difficult with HMC, the Halaal affiliate of Sanha in the UK. Unfortunately we only bought twice because we had carried plenty of food and we anticipated it being extremely expensive. We tried the Siirgista Bros (formerly Burgista bros) burgers which were great. Most HMC certified restaurants are based in Whitechapel the expat area of London and it is eminent as soon as you get of the tube. We ate at the Sahara Grill restaurant and tried the grilled chicken and steak. We stayed in an apartment and chose to cook basic things like pasta and rice which we purchased at the local Tescos. Groceries were really affordable and similar to South African prices. An important thing to note is that in the West, there is a distinguished difference between Halaal (just means no pork or alcohol) and Zabiha (animals cut following the correct methods in Islam). There is also a large Shia community so be a bit cautious of where you eat. I recently discovered @halalfooddiary on instagram which focuses on halaal food in London.
Paris is a city that will definitely appeal to history lovers with many museums to see particularly the Louvre. Home to the iconic Eiffel Tower, the city is quite popular amongst many tourists. Personally, the Eiffel Tower was really disappointing up close and tickets to go up have to be purchased in advance. Despite being known for islamophobia, the city seems to have a large Muslim population and many woman wear hijab. We also didn’t experience any discrimination or ‘funny looks’ throughout our trip. Halaal food was really difficult to find since there were no certification bodies based in Paris. We did eat from a Lebanese restaurant outside our hotel in La Defence. We thoroughly enjoyed the baked items like croissants, crepes and macaroons while walking through the narrow walk ways of the city- the best experience of Paris. We ate French loaf and canned Tuna which kept us going for most of the trip.
A major part of travelling is discovering new cuisine and that’s what I have learnt thus far. Before leaving South Africa, contact SANHA and ask them about the halaal authority based in the country you are visiting. I find that very beneficial along with a website particularly for western countries www.halaldiningworldwide.com.
After years of travelling with my family, I decided to begin an Instagram travel page where I post about my experiences while offering assistance to others. Currently based in Durban, I am a student who is passionate about travelling and visiting different countries. I have recently embarked on a business venture where I will be offering travel consulting and guiding people in booking their trips online.