With an unmistakable excitement in the air, the inaugural Halal Food Festival opened its doors to the public on Friday 27 September. The opening ceremony, which included a ribbon cutting and prayers led by Ajmal Masroor, allowed both the event’s founder Imran Kausar and events director Noman Khawaja to reflect on what has been an unforgettable journey.
From the early thought process of introducing such a festival to coining the term “haloodie” (a halal foodie), Kausar and Khawaja, surrounded by their family and friends, were undeniably proud of where their vision had brought them.
Speaking at the press preview, Imran Kausar said: “The objective of the Halal Food Festival is to bring together businesses, consumers, restaurants, producers and retailers together in a fun festival atmosphere so that we can all learn from each other and help understand and appreciate the size of the market, but also what businesses can deliver and for consumers to have a say as to why halal is important to them.”
The array of exhibitors truly embraced the notion of what it means to be halal, which extended beyond food and drink. Skincare, clothing, jewellery and art exhibitors all featured in the three day festival, which concluded on Sunday.
Alongside my weakness for sweets, my purchases also included a beautiful rose gold Hand Daisy from the buzzing Pearl Daisy. Meeting Amena was one of my definite highlights of the day. After her delicious Chicken and Mushroom pie video on YouTube, who wouldn’t want to meet her?! She is just as warm and friendly in person and I have to say, I am in love with my first (but definitely not my last) purchase from Pearl Daisy!
Live cooking demos by Cyrus Todiwala, Chef Abdul Yaseen from Cinnamon Kitchen and Masterchef’s Shelina Permalloo gave audiences the chance to see quick, easy to cook recipes, ask questions and even meet the chefs themselves.
Ali Imdad, from the Great British Bake Off also featured in the live cooking demos and the Cooking School where visitors could demonstrate their culinary flair and cook along with guest chefs.
I loved that the festival was very much a fun-filled, family event that included a little haloodies station for children. Mocktails by Anise were absolutely fantastic, mixing unique ingredients to produce mouthwateringly refreshing drinks. My review for Anise will be coming very soon.
For lunch, burgers by Meat and Shake which included deliciously caramelised onions and melted cheese hit the spot and for a sweet treat… well… take your pick! Aneesh the Chocolatier, The Apple Blue Patisserie and The Baking Tray all provided delicious desserts, just what I needed after a juicy burger.
The overall day was one that was worth waking up early for. Whilst this has been a dream come true for both Imran and Noman, the Halal Food Festival has been a long overdue event for the vast Muslim population. With such a variety of exhibitors and the strong support from the public and the Mayor of London, this very unique and fulfilling event is sure to attract even more visitors, businesses and retailers in years to come.