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Because it’s strange and beautiful and hot, people from everywhere converge on Florida and they bring their cuisine and their traditions with them. The Zest celebrates the intersection of food and communities in the Sunshine State.

Halal Food 101 With Florida's Halal Food Guru

Halal food on a plate

For some of us, eating halal food is about discovering our new favorite falafel cart. But for the nearly 2 billion Muslims around the world, halal food is a way of life. Regardless of which camp you fall into, this week’s guest says we all have a place at the table.

Listen to the episode

For some of us, eating halal food is about discovering our new favorite falafel cart. But for the nearly 2 billion Muslims around the world, halal food is a way of life. Regardless of which camp you fall into, this week’s Zestguest wants you to have a place at the table.

He’s Aly Sheraly, better known to his online followers as the Halal Food Guru. The Orlando-based blogger and YouTuber chatted with The Zest about which foods qualify as halal, his picks for Florida’s best halal restaurants and how food can help create cultural allies.

For the uninitiated, halal food means it is legal or permissible according to Muslim law. Meats must go through a specific process in order to be considered halal. Some foods are inherently halal, including grains, rice, fruit and vegetables.

Other foods are inherently haram, meaning prohibited. These include pork, alcohol and halal foods that have been tainted by haram foods, such as french fries cooked in oil that was also used to deep-fry pork chops.

A first-generation North American, Sheraly was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. He watched his parents, who were born in Zanzibar, use their friend network to learn where they could eat when traveling. This experience inspired him to start HalalFoodGuru.com.

“That’s why this whole industry of halal restaurants exists—to create a little bit more certainty for Muslims who are dining that their food is being prepared in a way that is permissible for them to eat,” he says.

While most of the Halal Food Guru’s online followers are Muslim, halal foods may appeal to diners of any background, especially those seeking Middle Eastern, Indian and East African cuisines.

“When someone else eats another person’s culture’s food, it’s not considered cultural appropriation. It’s considered cultural appreciation,” he says. “The most basic element of building bridges between communities is breaking bread.”

Here’s the link to the Halal Food Guru’s family recipe for kuku paka.

Halal Food Guru’s restaurant recommendations:

Jacksonville:

Orlando:

South Florida:

Tampa:

Related episodes:

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