Today we will tell you a little bit about what halal food is, what it is like to be the owner of a halal restaurant in Thessaloniki, why it is difficult to get halal food in Thessaloniki and where you can find food consumable for Muslims.
What is Halal food?
Halal food is the legal meat which is allowed for Muslims, because it represents both what is forbidden and what is sacred, and it designates the exception or purity according to Islamologists. Often, in certain restaurants or butcheries, there is written “halal”, giving indications about the quality or and the target consumer. Therefore, the halal certification concerns foods that complies with these principles and, for example, do not contain any food additive, colouring, or gelatin. Also, to declare halal, the food cannot be in contact with any substance considered illegal in the koran , such as food containing pork, alcohol, or non-ritual meats. The purification ritual is named the Dabiha and requires a Muslim to pronounce, towards Mecca, the phrase “Bismillah allahou Akbar”, which means “In the name of Allah the greatest”.
How is it to run a halal restaurant in Thessaloniki?
We interviewed Giannis, the owner of the halal restaurant “Massaya” in Thessaloniki.
The restaurant owner told us that there were not many shops with halal products as well as butcheries because largely the Muslim community is in Athens and not in Thessaloniki. Several companies put halal products in their shops so that people can buy them. Giannis made several special orders to make sure to meet his customer’s demand for halal meat. The products are imported from New Zealand, the Netherlands as well as France. Unlike in many other halal restaurants in Thessaloniki, you can both sit down inside the restaurant and get your food for take away at Massaya. Giannis has been running this restaurant since 2014 but they started cooking with halal meat in 2017 because many customers asked for it. The Greek people usually do not pay attention to halal meat because it’s of no importance for their religion. The wife of the restaurant owner is Syrian and knows everything about halal food. Their restaurant is often full but there is the possibility to order via the delivery platforms. In summer there are more Muslims because this is the time when tourists come to visit the city and it is one of the only places where there is food consumable for a Muslim.
Why there is not a wide range of choices regarding halal food in Thessaloniki?
There is a 4.7% Muslim population in Greece and most of them live in the region of Thrace. Since there is a large majority of Muslims at this coast, there are even Muslim schools.
According to Giannis, Muslim immigrants prefer to go to Athens because there are more opportunities for halal food and a lot of things to visit. There are five times more inhabitants in Athens than in Thessaloniki because it is a bigger city.There are not a lot of halal options in Thessaloniki, because, unlike Athens, Thessaloniki has a small Muslim population. Hence, there are only a few places in Thessaloniki presenting halal food.
Athens is a city where there are many tourists and it is enormously visited. There are 10 halal places in Athens because of its large Muslim community.
Where to find halal food in Thessaloniki?
Apostolou Pavlou 21 Kassandrou 136, Thessaloniki
22 Chimarras, Thessaloniki
Restaurant The Burger Bar
Gymnasiarchou Vasileiou Mistakidou 19 Charilaou,Thessaloniki
Mini Market Turkish food
Thermopilon 27, Thessaloniki 542 48
You can also find them on this map.