Whole goat and lamb, or cuts to order, available at most Halal markets.
Muslims, like Jews, have restrictions on which foods they can eat and have standards those foods must achieve to be Halal, a term analogous to the Jewish term “Kosher”. The rules for which meats can be eaten are the most restrictive and prohibit the following:
· Pigs and boars.
· Dogs, snakes and monkeys.
· Carnivorous animals with claws and fangs such as lions, tigers, bears and other similar animals.
· Birds of prey with claws such as eagles, vultures, and other similar birds.
· Pests such as rats, centipedes, scorpions and other similar animals.
· Animals forbidden to be killed in Islam, i.e., ants, bees and woodpecker birds.
· Animals which are considered repulsive generally like lice, flies, maggots and other similar animals.
· Animals that live both on land and in water such frogs, crocodiles and other similar animals.
· Mules and domestic donkeys.
· All poisonous and hazardous aquatic animals.
· Any other animals not slaughtered according to Islamic Law.
Meats must also be prepared properly, which includes the method of slaughter and a small blessing. I’m not Muslim. I’m not even Jewish (except genetically). But I don’t see lice or scorpions at the local Safeway. What interests me about Halal meats is the emphasis on lamb and goat, two flavorful meats that are a welcome change from beef, and great in stews and dishes from India, Mexico, and, of course, the Middle East.
Middle Eastern markets also generally have excellent selections of olive oil, olives, nuts, dried fruit, beans, pita bread, and other pantry favorites — at much better prices than the average supermarket. Following is a survey of Portland’s Middle East/Halal markets.
Tangy, seasonal green almonds can be eaten whole.
Ya Hala is one of the better Lebanese restaurants in town, so it makes sense that the connected Middle Eastern market would be decent as well — and it is. It’s small, but packed tightly. It’s also the only one of these markets to carry produce.
The produce selection isn’t large, but there are specialty items, such as dandelion greens and green almonds (pictured above) in season. (Green almonds — unripened almonds — can be eaten whole and have a slightly fuzzy exterior, like a peach, which they’re related to, and a tangy, vegetal interior, like the cross between a lemon and a green bean.) There are sweet peppers, hot peppers, and multiple varieties of eggplant. They also carry miscellaneous fruit, root vegetables, greens, and other basic foods. The produce bays are topped by hookahs for sale.
The shelves themselves are stocked with the usual: canned garbonzos and favas, jarred pepper spreads, olive oils, brined olives, preservers, pomegranate and rose water syrups, falafel mixes, tahini, Middle Eastern coffees, and so on. They have a nice little selection of snack foods, mostly covered or flavored nuts of all kinds and dried fruits. In one corner of the store are cracker bread, pita, and rice.
The refrigerated/frozen section contains dairy products, such as Moomtaz yogurts and several specialty cheeses. There are also supplemental breads and a frozen section with meats, vegetables, and filo dough. Meats are Halal, mostly consisting of sausages and basturma, and vegetables are from the Montana Food company and are items such as fava beans and taro.
In the back, not far from the hookahs, is a set of shelves with many Middle Eastern wines, plus a refrigerator with beer and more wine. Surrounding the wine on three sides are spices and bulk items. Buy your falafel mix, dried lemons, and lupinis by the pound.
International Food has purchased Barbur Food and is in the process of renovating the space (while it remains open). I haven’t visited that location yet, but they promise it will be bigger and even better.
8005 SE Stark St
Portland, OR 97215
9845 SW Barbur Blvd
A fiery rotisserie is a highlight of Halal’s deli.
Tucked away in a Tigard strip mall on 99W between 217 and I-5, is this deli and market with possibly the best looking meat selection.
You can get any meat cut to order and all the parts of the goat and lamb are available. Many offal bits are on display, such as the heart, tongue, and liver. Even the heads can be purchased.
The shelf and refrigerated goods are similar to those at International, but a bit more spread out. Olives, olive oils, rose water, beans of all kinds, both canned and dried, coffees, teas, and so on are available for purchase. Various cheeses, yogurts, yogurt drinks, pitas, filo, etc, line the refrigerated section. Rices and breads take up a small corner near the front of the store. Halal Meat, unlike the other markets, also has a small section of clothing.
Just to the north of the market, through an open doorway, is the deli. To one side are display cases with treats such as baklava and kenafi. If you look beyond the cash register, you’ll see a flaming rotisserie with marinated chickens getting more crisp, while remaining juicy, with every turn. Falafel are made to order, prices are fair, and the chicken is good. Everything I’ve had has been at least decent.
This would be my first choice for Halal meats and my first choice for a bite to eat along that stretch of 99W.
11535 SW Pacific Hwy
Tigard, OR 97223
What time is it? Prayer time.
I passed by this miniscule Middle Eastern market several times before I trusted the address and took a closer look. It’s behind a convenience store with an entrance on the side of the building.
The selection of canned and dry goods is smaller than at the other stores, but still substantial enough to make most trips to other markets unnecessary if you’re already in the neighborhood. You can still get canned favas. You can still get pomegranate syrup. You can still get pickled mangoes, spices, and dried lemons. Likewise, their bread and dairy section is smaller, but contains enough to satisfy. They also have olives in bulk.
They actually have the best selection of sweets of any of the markets. Several filo pastry desserts, plus nougats tossed in powdered sugar. They even carry jalebis (that’s the name on the subcontinent, not sure what they’re called in the Middle East) — the pretzel shaped swirls of crisped syrup.
The meat selection is comparable to Halal Meat in Tigard. You can get goat or lamb cut to order or even whole. Most offal is available, except the head. (The photo at the beginning of this report is from this market.)
It’s a small store with a pround owner and worth a stop for meats and sweets.
11527 SW Canyon Rd
Beaverton, OR 97005
Goat and lamb hanging in the walk-in freezer
This will be short. Madina, which provides the Halal meats for this market, is actually located in the back of a Desi market called Bazaar. Meat is cut to order and only a few packages of pre-cut meats are at the ready. They have goat, beef, lamb, and chicken.
The market itself is fairly large and a good choice for Indian/Pakistani products, though there is no produce. It’s connected to a Indian restaurant, too, which I haven’t tried. I may cover this place in more detail in the future if I do a Desi market survey.
10255 SW Canyon Rd.