Archive for the Food Category

An American Ramadan, Circa 1955

Posted in Food, Islam with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2012 by irydhan

Does the first experience of Ramadan begin the same for everyone? It all depends on the time and where this all takes place. Consider the time to be during the year 1955 or early 1956, and the place was Oakland when I experienced my first month of fasting. I don’t remember for sure just what time of year it was since time has elapsed.

The ordinary calendars said nothing about when Ramadan should begin. There was very little printed literature available, except what I received in the mail from well-wishers in Africa and the Fiji Islands. Even once in a while I would get something from India or Pakistan, but they only said that the month of Ramadan was somewhat close to some equivalent month on our American Calendars. There were “Turko Tartar” community members here in the Bay Area and they had a calendar with the important Muslim holidays printed on it. Since they were some of the founders of the Islamic Center of San Francisco, we followed their advice and learned what day Ramadan would begin.

Fasting should begin just before dawn appears. When is dawn?

Read the rest of the article here on Al Mihrab Patheos.


Foodistan (Lahore, Pakistan)

Posted in Food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2012 by irydhan

Recently, I came back from a month long trip to Lahore – the culinary capital of Pakistan.

Lahore, has a wide variety of cuisine, from fancy upscale Italian restaurants to the simple Pakistani village food and everything in between.

A few tips for those of you who may be traveling to Pakistan soon:

1. Get Your Shots – Before you Travel (Currently Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Polio and Malaria are the main diseases in Pakistan)

2. Don’t Drink The Water – unless it’s Bottled and Sealed (Nestle PureLife is the most reliable brand)

3. Don’t Eat Street Food – unless it is fried up, steaming hot, or cooked well done!  Avoid eating anything cold or something made with water.

If you follow those 3 simple rules, you should be fine and not get sick!

Below is a short slideshow of my trip through “Foodistan” aka Lahore this past February.  I hope you enjoy the pictures, as much as I enjoyed eating all the delicious food:)!

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You can see more pictures of my trip to Pakistan on ILLUME magazine online here!

How to Prepare Your “Stealth Halal” Turkey (Recipe Included)

Posted in Food, Islam, Media with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 24, 2011 by irydhan

The Halal Turkey

Originally Posted on ILLUME:

Recently, bikini-blogger and Islamophobe extraordinaire, Pamela Gellar issued a warning that the Butterball Company is supporting international terrorism by providing “Stealth Halal” Turkeys to American families.

Gellar states on her website:

Across this great country, on Thanksgiving tables nationwide, infidel Americans are unwittingly going to be serving halal turkeys to their families this Thursday. Turkeys that are halal certified — who wants that, especially on a day on which we are giving thanks to G-d for our freedom? I wouldn’t knowingly buy a halal turkey — would you? Halal turkey, slaughtered according to the rules of Islamic law, is just the opposite of what Thanksgiving represents: freedom and inclusiveness, neither of which are allowed for under that same Islamic law.

Geller also calls on those who share her viewpoint to boycott the company.

Of course Gellar doesn’t realize that Butterball, a global company, is catering to their international market, which includes 10 Muslim-majority countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

Here is a statement from Butterball’s international website:

As an international turkey provider, we have the expertise in serving different countries and different customs, and will work with you to meet any and all product needs. We have met the requirements for the following certifications: USDA Approved, Russian Approved, Halal Certified, and employ a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HAACP) food safety system with Good Manufacturing processes. From great customer service to new product innovation to the proper certifications, Butterball has the experience you need to get our great tasting turkey in your market.

There are approximately 8 million Muslims in America, and the vast majority probably do not care if their Turkey is halal certified. But of course many Muslims, such as myself, do enjoy eating halal Turkey and spending time with close friends and family during Thanksgiving. Ironically, most Muslim-Americans feel that Thanksgiving is very similar to the Islamic holiday of Eid-ul-Adha, where another type of animal (a goat or lamb) is shared over the dinner table with family.

Here’s a recipe for preparing that “Stealth Halal” Turkey.

Mediterranean Style Turkey

by Nyela Goraya


  • 1 cup cashews
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup tangerine juice
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 (10 pound) whole turkey
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup uncooked rice (soaked)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons apple juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  • Take cashews and place in a skillet over medium heat. Cook until toasted. Remove from heat, and chop.
  • Then Melt 2/3 cup butter in a saucepan.  Add the cumin, thyme, cinnamon and paprika. Mix in the orange juice, tangerine juice, and lemon juice. Rub the turkey inside and out with the mixture, reserving some for basting.
  • Season turkey with salt and pepper.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef and onion until beef is evenly brown and onion is tender. Drain grease. Mix in the rice. Stir in the cashews, pine nuts, raisins, 1/3 cup butter, broth, and apple juice. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  • Continue cooking until all liquid has been absorbed. Stuff all turkey cavities with the mixture,
  • and tie in place with kitchen twine.
  • Put turkey on a rack in a roasting pan, and cover breast and thighs with aluminum foil.
  • Pour about 1/4 inch water into the bottom of the pan.
  • Roast turkey in the preheated oven 3 to 4 hours, brushing occasionally with remaining butter and juice mixture.
  • Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) during final hour of roasting, and remove foil.
  • Cook turkey to a minimum internal temperature of 180 degrees F (82 degrees C).

Enjoy Your Thanksgiving!

The Halal Carts of New York

Posted in Food, Islam with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2011 by irydhan

Originally posted on ILLUME magazine:

Over the last 5 to 6 years, New York City has seen an exponential growth of it’s “Halal Food” industry.

One element is the very visible “Halal Food” carts, which number well over 200 all across New York City and the surrounding areas.

The majority are located in Manhattan, but I also came across one in the Chinatown section of Flushing, NY on my recent trip – which was a very pleasant (and tasty) surprise!

Of course some are more popular than others.  There is the Halal Cart located at W. 53rd and 6th Avenue which is known to be one of the best.  Unfortunately, when I went there, I didnt realize that the “real one” at 53rd and 6th Ave. didnt get there until 7:30pm, so I unknowningly tried a different halal food vendor at the same location at an earlier time.  It was good, but not has great as what everyone was saying (now I know why)!

Anyways here are some images I took with my iPhone of different Halal Carts across New York.  Enjoy!

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2010 Food in Review

Posted in Food, Islam with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2011 by irydhan

Double Halal Bacon Burger from Falafel Corner in Fremont, CA

With close to 600 food reviews across several different websites (Zabihah, Yelp, Google, JustSayGo, etc.) many consider me to be one of the most Prolific Halal Food reviewers online today!

Halal Steak Tacos and Chicken Wings from Tayyibaat in Milpitas, CA

I have a large collection of pictures (mainly taken from my iPhone) of my favorite food dishes on Facebook and twitter.

the Sports Platter from Jubba Somalian Food in South San Jose


Combination Chicken and Beef Kabab Plate at Salang Pass (iftaar during Ramadan) in Fremont, CA

Many people enjoy seeing and commenting on my latest food photo online, so I decided to pick a few of my favorites from 2010 and post them here on my blog.

Shake & Bake Chicken dinner made by the wifey the day before Thanksgiving!


Hot, Fresh and Tasty Homemade Naan by my mother-in-law.

I have also included some homemade food dishes made by family and friends. There are also some desserts from mainstream restaurants in the Bay Area.

Homemade Sushi by my brother-in-law, Shahzad Goraya!


Mixed Kebab Plate at Oasis Grille in Berkeley, CA

Feel free to comment on which ones you like best and don’t forget to go out and support these Halal establishments, because you never know if they change owners, move or even worse: close down completely.

Fried Chicken Jummah Plate

Halal Fried Chicken Plate from Jummah after Thanksgiving at Napredak Hall


Memon Potluck Thanksgiving Dinner:)

This happened to a couple of my  my favorite Halal places including: Silk Road Bistro (San Jose, CA) and Top Deck Deli (Santa Clara, CA), which closed down in December last year!


Last Meat at Top Deck Deli: Halal Philly Cheesesteak, Steak Fries & Rootbeer!So I posted two of my favorite items from Top Deck below. Enjoy!

Chicken Salad from Tazo Bistro in downtown San Jose

Jumbo Halal Hot Dog and Chicken Wings and Chocolate Malt Shake (not shown) from Dandy Dogs in Livermore, CA

Unlike other reviewers, I have been to most of the places I have reviewed more than once and try to give an accurate, yet fair review! I don’t post reviews for places that I have not personally been to, ordered food from or eaten from.

BBQ Afghani Bacon Burger from Cafe Sophia

Great burger which is hand made and cooked to your preference. I like medium well myself.

I am also known to post new Halal restaurants, stores and markets quickly and usually am the first person to review them online.

If you would like me to review a specific place, feel free to leave a comment on my blog or email me with your suggestions.

Thanks for everyone’s support and Happy Halal Eating in 2011!

Warm English Toffee Cake from Claim Jumpers

Cornish Game Hen Kebabs from Yas Persian Food

Free Cotton Candy at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds in San Jose during the SBIA Eid Program!

Nescafe Indian Cold Coffee from Mirchi's Cafe in Fremont, CA

Ice Cream in a peanut brittle waffle bowl at McCormick & Schmicks in San Jose, CA

Gorgonzola Stuffed Meatballs

homemade stuffed meatballs for the first iftaar of Ramadan by Huma Khan

Second to Last Meal at Top Deck Deli: Chopped Steak, Eggs (over easy), Sourdough toast and Hashbrowns!





My Top 5 Halal (Zabihah) Restaurants in the Bay Area

Posted in Food, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 12, 2009 by irydhan

 Currently I have nearly 200 reviews on – a website created by a friend of mine, Shahed Amanullah, about 10 years ago which is a user generated review site for Zabihah Halal restaurants across the world!

Zabihah is an arabic word which means an animal is slaughtered according to Islamic dietary laws (similiar to Kosher for Jews) and it is Halal (permissible in Islam) for Muslims to consume.

Since many people see my reviews online, I got the nickname of “Mr.” from some of my friends and always get asked about my favorite Halal places or if I have come across any new Halal places in the Bay Area.

I decided to post my top 5 Halal restaurants (as of now:)) here on my blog!  So here they are (not in any particular order):

Top Deck Deli in Santa Clara, CA

Top Deck Deli in Santa Clara, CA

1. Top Deck Deli in Santa Clara, CA (located about a mile away from the MCA masjid).  This is an Old-fashioned American Deli which serves all the traditional favorites such as Reubens, Cheese Burgers, Philly Cheesesteaks, Grilled Chicken Sandwiches as well as specialty items such as wings, salads, burrittos, tacos, steaks and soups.  They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. For breakfast try the chopped steak and eggs or the Denver Omelet (Halal turkey bacon, veggies and cheese). My favorite lunch item is the Hot Pastrami sandwich on a sourdough roll.  They also have low-carb wraps which you can get for most of the sandwiches and is a good alternative if you are trying to cut down on your carbs like I am these days:).  An important note is that the owner, Don Brown recently converted to Islam (during the month of Shabaan this year) and is a very down to earth and friendly man (as is his wife, Emma, who runs the deli with him).  He is dedicated to providing high quality Halal American food for the Muslim community, and although his prices are a bit more than the usual places (Subway, Quiznos, etc.), his food is much better quality and has bigger portions – last but not least it is completely 100% Halal:)! Go to for more info.

Cafe Grillades in San Bruno, CA

Cafe Grillades in San Bruno, CA

2. Cafe Grillades in San Bruno, CA (located close to the SFO airport).  This is a nice French Algerian place which serves some of the best crepes in the Bay Area.  When most people think of crepes, they think “IHOP”, but these are REAL crepes, both savory and sweet crepes.  The owner, Br. Samy Fars has gone through alot of trouble to provide all halal meat, even though most of his customers are not Muslim.  The restaurant is small, but very classy and a nice change compared to most Halal restaurants which have little or no interior decor or concept of friendly service.  My favorite items are the chicken poulet crepe, the cafe grillades burger (one of the best burgers I have had) and for dessert you can’t beat the banana crepe with caramel!  I highly recommend this place to bring your guests as it will be a very unique Halal experience that you can’t find anywhere else in the Bay Area (and perhaps in the country:))! Go to for more info.

Gulzaar Bakery and Restaurant

Gulzaar Bakery and Restaurant

3. Gulzaar Halal in San Jose, CA (located a couple miles away from Valley Fair Mall).  This use to be a Lebanese bakery (Called “Just Laziz”) which served Manakesh and other similiar items, but was bought by Imam Omar Farooq Desai who use to own Hala-B’s sandwich spot in Sunnyvale a few years back.  He has brought back his famous Beef Kabab and Shredded chicken sandwiches to Gulzaar.  The french bread roll is one of the best sandwich bread I have ever had, and I still don’t know where he get’s it from!  Imam Farooq still has the Lebanese items on the menu, but has added some Indian-Pakistani favorites such as biriyani and samosas.  Try the Beef Kabab Sandwich (medium spicy) and you will not be disappointed! The chicken biriyani is good too:) Go to for more info.

New Yorkers Buffalo Wings in San Francisco, CA

New Yorkers Buffalo Wings in San Francisco, CA

4. New Yorkers Buffalo Wings in San Francisco, CA (in the Mission District).  Although the parking is difficult and it may not be in the best of areas, this place is worth trying out when you are in SF, especially if it’s late at night and most Halal places are closed, this place is open till 3am on Friday and Saturday nights!  The wings are excellent.   My favorite wing sauce is the Spicy one, although BBQ and Teriyaki are very good as well.  I usually get the Supreme Philly Cheesesteak, which is excellent since it’s very cheesy and has alot of meat!  The interior decor of the place is clean and spacious and they have a large TV in the corner where you can watch movies or sports. Go to for more info.

Sala Thai 2 in Fremont, CA

Sala Thai 2 in Fremont, CA

5. Sala Thai II in Fremont, CA (Located in an industrial office park).  I like Thai food, because it’s a mix of Chinese and Indian food and spicier than both!  The interior decor of this restaurant is very nice with polished wood tables, shiny black seats and colorful yet elegant tiles on the walls.  Our family usually celebrates some kind of birthday, anniversary or special occassion at this restaurant, as everyone enjoys the food.  Get the Hot soup with prawns (or chicken) and Yellow Curry Chicken.  The sati is good, as well as the BBQ chicken or beef.  I liked the garlic wings for appettizer and Drunken Noodles for main course.  Try the Thai Iced Tea as well the fresh coconut milk.  For dessert try the “Roti” (tiny pieces of bread with condensed milk and sugar on top).  Note that there are two locations, but only Sala Thai II serves Halal meat.  Go to for more info.

You can see these as well as the rest of my reviews on  If you have an iPhone, download the Zabihah application from iTunes, so that you can quickly find your local halal restaurants, grocery and meat stores, masjids and Muslim owned businesses while on the go!

Irfan “Mr.” Rydhan