Hosting Guests Who Adhere to a Halal Diet
When hosting a formal or informal gathering, you want to make sure every guest feels welcome and comfortable, especially when it comes to food and beverages – they are such a central part of any celebration! If you follow a Halal diet, or if you are hosting friends, family, or clients who do, making sure that Halal drinks, hors d’oeuvres, or meals are served is essential.
The best advice when it comes to hosting an event with Muslims in attendance is to completely avoid serving pork, alcohol, or non-Halal meats. Muslims respect the beliefs of others, and don’t try to force non-Muslims to conform to an Islamically-acceptable diet. However, since alcohol and pork are completely prohibited, many feel more comfortable attending events where alcohol is not served, and more comfortable eating when they know that there is no chance of cross-contamination with an adjacent pork dish.
Serving alcohol is a particularly important consideration because it goes beyond simply providing a range of drink options; it sets a tone for the event and can influence behavior of those attending. If you want to ensure that your Muslim guests feel comfortable, skip the wine, beer, and cocktails, and offer a variety of fruit juice, soda, coffee, tea, and sparking water instead.
Alcohol-free never needs to be boring. If you have the space, set up a make-your-own fruit sparkler bar with Halal-certified flavoring syrups, fruit juice, sparkling water, ginger ale, fresh mint leaves and other garnishes. In the summer, offer iced tea, juice, and lemonade so guests can mix their own refreshing drinks. In fall and winter, hot cider and eggnog are great options – make sure they don’t contain any added alcohol.
Ideally, look for brands with a Halal seal. You can make hot spiced cider by warming it on the stovetop or in a crock pot with cinnamon, cloves, and orange slices. Tea is always a good option as well – check out Numi Organic Tea, certified Halal by ISA. See our article on Halal Beverage Certification for more information.
When it comes to food, one of the most important considerations is ensuring that the meat, if it is served, is Halal certified. This indicates that it was slaughtered according to Islamic dietary laws and is permissible for Muslims to eat. If you live near a Halal butcher shop or ethnic import grocery store, you may already have a convenient source of Halal beef, chicken, lamb, or goat. If not, there are multiple online retailers that will ship throughout the US! One option is Midamar, certified Halal by Islamic Services of America. They offer Halal beef, chicken, and turkey, including lunch meats, hot dogs, pepperoni, chicken nuggets, whole chickens and cuts, and whole turkeys around Thanksgiving.
Another option is to serve vegetarian or seafood-based dishes, since virtually all seafood is Halal and does not need to be certified in the way meat and poultry do. Many home-made vegetarian meals would be Halal suitable, as long as they are made without wine, beer, or other types of alcohol. In addition, cheese should be Halal-certified, since some is made with pork or beef enzymes. You can also check if the label says ‘vegetarian’ or ‘microbial’ rennet, which means it was made with enzymes not derived from pork or cattle. Similarly, any kind of processed seafood such as crab cakes or fish sticks should be Halal certified, but whole fresh seafood is likely Halal suitable, especially when purchased from a high-quality, trustworthy vendor. Just be sure to avoid using any prohibited ingredients in cooking, such as wine in fish broth or bacon in clam chowder.
For cooking, use whole ingredients like vegetables and grains, and when using partially processed foods like broth or sauces, carefully check the ingredients and look for a Halal seal. Many sauces contain wine or other alcohols as flavoring, which makes them unsuitable for Halal consumers. Look for Halal certified products or try making them at home!
Pay special attention to dessert items, since it is common for sweets to contain alcohol flavors, animal-derived ingredients, and other potentially unacceptable additions. Check out our articles on Halal Baking at Home and Halal Ice Cream for more information. Look for Halal-certified cookies, cakes, or ice cream, or try making them at home with Halal ingredients.
With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to host a fantastic Halal gathering where everyone feels comfortable and can enjoy the full array of delicious foods and drinks.
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