99 Problems and a Meal is One
“If You’re Muslim…”
Ammarah Rehman | 4/19/16 12:26pm
| Updated 4/21/16 4:34pm
American Word Magazine
This is the first installment in Ammarah’s weekly column, “If You’re a Muslim..” This weekly column will address Muslim stereotypes on campus, in the media and around the world. Many of these articles will be based on experiences of young Muslims dealing with ignorant questions asked because of their religion.
“So if you’re Muslim, can you eat pork?” No! It’s no secret that American University has no Halal meat options on campus. During Welcome Week, I asked the Wellness Center if there were any halal meat options on campus. She answered, “Yes!” How thrilled was I to know that I didn’t have to be a fake vegetarian on campus now! The woman at the booth explained, “You can go to TDR and try the kosher section.” Wait, did she hear me correctly? I understood that she didn’t want to say no to my question and was offering me the next best option, even though the simple answer to my question was “NO.”
Halal means “rightful,” and Halal food adheres to the Muslim faith. Halal meat is when an animal is slaughtered with a cut through the jugular vein, carotid artery and windpipe. The animal must be alive, organic and healthy and all the blood needs to be drained from the animal. There is also a prayer recited at the time of slaughter.
Despite the lack of options on campus, being in D.C. has allowed me to explore many different Halal restaurants the city has to offer. These are my five favorite spots to find the tastiest Halal food:
1. Halal Kabab House: 2120 18th St. NW
Located in the heart of Adams Morgan, the Halal Kabab House is a combination of South Asian cuisine with the best naan in all of D.C. You can easily get there by either taking the 96 bus or a 15 minute walk from the Dupont Circle metro stop. It’s a bit of a hole in the wall restaurant. Don’t expect to be seated immediately when you enter or be able to communicate properly with the workers since they speak minimal English.
Nonetheless, the Halal Kabab House specializes in chicken kababs, but the wide variety of lamb, chicken or beef curries and entrees are all delicious. Each platter comes with a side of rice, spicy chickpeas, warm naan, salad and chicken for around $10. For the amount of food, the price is reasonable and if you’re willing to spend a bit extra, try the tarty mango lassi. The best part of this restaurant is the authenticity and variety of flavors provided per plate.
2. Busboys and Poets: 2021 14th St. NW
I know what you must be thinking, “Isn’t Busboys and Poets an American restaurant?” Yes it is, and that’s the beauty of it! Busboys and Poets located right off of U Street (also accessible by the 96 bus) serves Halal chicken. It was created by owner Anas “Andy” Shallal, an Iraqi-American artist and activist with intentions of creating a community of racial and cultural connections. So not only can you get some amazing fried chicken, chicken sandwich or chicken chorizo pizza, you can also go to an open mic event. Social justice and soul food is the central theme,and it’s always fantastic being able to eat Halal American food. The price can vary anywhere from about $15-20.
3. Mama Ayesha: 1967 Calvert St. NW
Mama Ayesha’s is a historic spot in D.C. serving authentic Palestinian food that is still run by Mama Ayesha’s grandson. Most of the items on the menu will sound unfamiliar, but the best item is the hummus. The dishes vary, with sides consisting of rice and vegetables. Although the menu sounds risky, the majority of the dishes consist of meat, grilled or marinated, and served with a rich sauce and delicious side. The esthetics of the place will make you feel as if you have landed yourself in a traditional Middle Eastern restaurant. The place is covered with Arabic art, and beautiful light hang from the ceiling with a orange brick color theme. It’s on the more expensive side and can cost anywhere between $20-30.
4. Amina Thai Food: 5065 Nicholson Ln., Rockville
Several stops on the Red Line in Silver Spring is a Thai restaurant that serves Halal meat. There is in fact a minority population of Muslims in Thailand with a growing number of immigrants from neighboring countries. The restaurant is decorated with Arabic words and art. The menu consists of small appetizers, soups, curries and noodles or rice dishes. There are many variations of noodles and they come in different sizes and textures. I would highly recommend the Pad Kee Mao consisting of wide rice noodles,an array of vegetables and a kick of flavor with a spicy chili sauce. The price is reasonable from around $10-20.
5. Food Trucks
Generally, food trucks can be found anywhere by the Washington Monument, but there are some in front of the Van Ness station, Farragut Square and scattered through the streets of the city. Buzzwords to look for when search for a halal food truck include the most obvious–halal–as well as kebab, Mediterranean, shawarma or falafel. Keep an eye out for a food truck and make sure to have some cash on you.