Halal meals are made with foods that conform to Islamic dietary laws. These laws include the forbidding of pork, carnivorous animals and alcohol, among other restrictions. While halal meals used to be the exclusive domain of the Islamic world, it is now common to find halal items on menus throughout the West. Whether ordering halal food from a restaurant or preparing it at home, some halal meals are traditional while others are not; some are healthy and may be easy to make as well.
Although there is no single definition of what makes a traditional halal meal, certain common dishes come from a variety of Islamic countries around the world. Without pork on the menu, lamb and chicken kebabs are a common halal meal, often served with pita bread, vegetables and different sauces or yogurts. Pakistani halal meals often feature lamb, chicken or beef cooked in a creamy sauce, or rice dishes featuring grilled meats and vegetables. Fried eggplants are also common in halal cuisine, often prepared with onions, spices and yogurt.
Healthy halal meals can be variations on traditional dishes using leaner cuts of meat and healthier ingredients, or different dishes entirely. One option is to use fish, which is generally leaner and healthier than meats. Healthy halal meal ideas include baked salmon, tuna scramble and a sardine salad or wrap. To make a halal meal healthier, cooks often use whole wheat flour instead of white, cut down on salt and refined sugar and use plenty of fresh vegetables.
Some halal meals can be prepared on the go if the right ingredients are kept in the kitchen or pantry. Stews are an easy way to use a variety of halal ingredients together to make a convenient meal. Beef or chicken can be cooked slowly with potatoes, vegetables and spices to make a savory halal stew. Sandwiches and salads using vegetables and sliced chicken breast are another way to make halal meals without too much effort or time required.
Halal food does not need to be restricted to foods that are traditional in Islamic cuisine. Any meals that use strictly halal ingredients are considered halal, no matter how Westernized those meals might seem to be. Cooks can make halal meals that start with soup, such as lentil or carrot soup. Non-traditional main dishes can include vegetable fritters, chili or lasagna. A dessert may follow, such as apple crisp or pie, chocolate cake or ice cream.