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Beyond the Food Cart: Why Halal is Booming in NYC


Thursday June 13 2024 • 12:00am - 12:00am ET

A platter of halal food

The Greene Space’s recent tasting and talk on halal food started with a simple question: Why now?

In the decades since eating local, sustainably and responsibly became a topic of national conversation, why is halal food – food considered pure and permissible according to Islamic dietary laws – booming in the American marketplace now?

Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, author of Green Deen: What Islam Teaches about Protecting the Planet, moderated a conversation on May 5 with three giants in New York City halal: Ayesha Kiani, founder of the South Asian-Thai fusion halal restaurant, Chal Chilli; Khalid Latif, founder of the humane and organic butcher shop, Honest Chops; and Adnan Durrani, CEO of Saffron Road, which Whole Foods always seems to have stocked. The event, “Eating Halal,” was the second in our Muslim/American panel series.

The panelists talked about halal and kosher benefitting from each other’s success, that often kosher is halal and vice versa. About 80 percent of halal is bought by non-Muslims. One panelist explained that Whole Foods’ embrace of his food product helped springboard his company.

After the panel, Akram Said, a sous chef at Brooklyn’s French Louie who studied at Le Cordon Bleu, showed the audience how to make a halal Japanese-inspired eggplant ceviche. (Watch the demo below and get the recipe here)

Watch Said’s cooking demo and get the full recipe here.

Get a look inside the famous Sammy’s Halal Cart in Jackson Heights, Queens:

Watch the entire conversation:

The conversation was followed by a food tasting for the audience. They sampled a variety of Honest Chop’s sausages; meat, spinach, and cheese pies from the Bosnian restaurant Djerdan Burek; banana crepes and dumpling samosas, for a South Asian-Thai fusion take on halal from Chal Chilli; chicken and gyro over rice from street cart vendor Sammy’s Halal Cart, with locations in both Queens and Manhattan; Saffron Road’s Crunchy Chickpeas in a variety of flavors, including falafel and Korean BBQ; and baklava from Damascus Bakery off Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

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