Sizzling South American steaks, Chocolate filled samosas, fresh falafels, Malaysian pancakes, Italian truffles and fruit mocktails, just some of our discoveries under one roof at the world’s largest Halal Food (Haloodie) Festival in London’s ExCel Centre between 27-29th September.
We were primed for a gastronomic adventure as we wondered around this international festival bursting with tempting aromas and unusual ingredients with delectable flavours. As my children love watching BBCs MasterChef, our first stop was the cookery demonstration by last year’s winner Shelina Permalloo. Shelina was creating a stir with her Mauritius inspired recipe of grilled swordfish and pomegranate.
For serious foodies and haloodies, the organisers had a Michelin star line up of chefs demonstrating their culinary expertise including: Jean Christophe Novelli, Rachel Allen, Saira Hamilton, Raheela Hussain, Norman Musa, and chocolatier Aneesh Popat. Each of them enthralled the audience with their expertise know-how, yet simple to follow recipes in the demo kitchens and Master class sessions.
After watching all this preparation we were ready to sample the fayre that was being served up, particularly on the meat stalls that included: the very popular Argentinean steak sandwiches by El Gaucho, the succulent chicken by Muayad Ali, chef of French Mediterranean restaurant, La Sophia, and the mixed meat platters by Cinnamon Kitchen. Our taste buds were rewarded with flavoursome and tender meat dishes that left you feeling very satisfied.
For vegetarians, there was plenty on offer too, from the traditional favourite of crispy falafels made from seasoned ground chickpeas …
…to the more unusual truffles and earthy tasting pates with mushroom and courgette combinations dreamed up by Italian Claudio Bartolomei. My children were intrigued to learn that he forages for truffles in his native Italy where wild black truffles are found growing symbiotically on oak trees, whilst the white ones are found growing on hazelnut trees.
Street food stalls were doing a bustling trade; here you could sample a wide variety of cheap eats from the everyday burgers and hotdogs to the more healthy options of Sushi and Moroccon tagine dishes.
For those with a sweet tooth (that includes me!) dessert dishes included: scrumptious botanical chocolates by Fiona Sciolti, gourmet fudge, Anglo French patisseries, macaroons, and wild delicate honey’s from around the world. Ruby Violet’s stall had dairy ice-creams and sorbets made using organic ingredients and free range eggs. Cake makers were on hand to take orders for special occasion cakes in any shape or form you fancy, including this children’s birthday cake in the shape of Aladdin’s Palace!
And you could wash it all down with delicious non-alcoholic mocktails shaken and not stirred by the team at the Juice Shack.
…or try the refreshing tropical coconut milk, expertly hacked open with a machete, but don’t try this at home!