Halal food is for everyone
One of the initiatives lately of both the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Tourism (DOT) is the promotion of halal cuisine. I know that past administrations have also promoted this but it’s wonderful to see a lot of events supporting the halal industry just in the past couple of weeks.
On Nov. 22, the DTI hosted the Philippine Halal Economy Festival. I had a front row seat to this as Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, the only Muslim in the present Cabinet and therefore someone who practices a halal lifestyle, was keynote speaker.
In her speech, she emphasized the potential of the halal industry as it may cater not only to Muslims but to all who would like to embrace it. She said, “Generally, halal is only perceived as a dietary restriction in observance of the faith. But it is way more than that … it offers a lifestyle that may be adopted not just by Muslims but by everyone.”
She then shared the delicious food that she grew up with and which they continue to enjoy at home to this day.
“Imagine warming up with an aromatic bowl of tiyula, the Tausug word for soup, feasting on linigid na manok, a chicken curry dish stewed in fresh coconut milk, and finishing the meal with amik, a confection fried with sweetened ground rice batter. Mapiya i taam (Delicious)!”
A few days later, we had the occasion to actually taste halal dishes at an event organized by the Philippine Tourism Board led by chief operating officer Margarita Nograles and hosted by the Malaysian embassy. Entitled “A Halal Journey through Filipino-Malaysian Flavors,” we experienced the culinary creativity of Chef Don Baldosano of Linamnam as he presented his halal-friendly rendition of Filipino and Malaysian dishes.
The degustation began with a beef broth soup that was intriguingly called sup soto longganisa. Sup soto is an Indonesian soup, i.e., soto is a traditional Indonesian soup made with different types of meat and vegetables. The intriguing part here is the longganisa as this generally refers to the Filipino pork sausage. However, for his take on it, Chef Don used beef and turned it into a ‘sausage’ by wrapping it in leaves. We loved the very aromatic broth and Secretary Mina said that this reminded her of their soup at home.
This was followed by Chef Don’s take on various Asian dishes: nasi lemak served with rice from their own family backyard; rendang but showcasing both the rendang of Mindanao and the rendang of Malaysia alongside lamb and beef inspired by tiyula itum, a Mindanaoan beef soup, and therefore braised in burnt coconut.
Dinner was capped by a dessert of dalandan granita with calamansi accents and gelee. This was a very refreshing way to cap the delicately prepared halal dinner.
Indeed, there is so much potential in halal. I hope that more chefs embrace this kind of cuisine. While we know that halal food is any food deemed permissible under Islamic law, we don’t really know what that entails. Hopefully, DTI and DOT can continue to enlighten us on this and chefs will join as well in exploring everything halal.
Understanding is the key to peace … and evidently, to more delicious food as well! Here’s to halal cuisine … and to peace, prosperity and love for all mankind!