Are you a ‘halaloodie?’ Meet the bloggers making life easy for halal diners

From mind-boggling burgers to delicious desserts, these Muslim foodies take their followers on an international tour of the world’s best halal eateries. (Shutterstock)
Updated 23 January 2018

Are you a ‘halaloodie?’ Meet the bloggers making life easy for halal diners

DUBAI: You can barely look at an Instagram feed now without encountering dozens of drool-worthy food photos. Social media has had an undeniable impact on how we view and consume food and, according to Dubai-based culinary personality Dima Sharif, how we “express and interact with food.
“People have become way more aware about food issues, (including) healthy eating, and even the cultural and historical impact of food around the world,” she told Arab News. “People have definitely become better cooks and developed a deeper appreciation for good food images too.”
Social media has even affected the hospitality industry to the extent of hotels and restaurants now thinking about their Instagram-friendliness when designing concepts. “The whole idea of Instagram-ability is catching on as restaurants and cafes are thinking about every detail in terms of both food and décor,” Fizzah, from The London Haloodie Instagram account, told Arab News.
But who among the social media world’s self-proclaimed foodies are wowing us with their images — while also being culturally sensitive? We trawled through Instagram to discover the culinary bloggers and influencers who not only specialize in halal food, but do so in style.
Curate your “following” list to include these, and you will have your gourmet inspiration sorted.
The London Haloodie
An eclectic combination of luxury restaurant meals, coffee and cakes (lots of it in fact), selfies, with the occasional travel pic thrown in for good measure, this is the Instagram feed you wish you had.
“I consider myself as showcasing the best halal places in London (and the places I travel to) that step away from the traditional notion of what halal food is, through the eyes of a modern Muslim,” said Fizzah. “In my opinion, just because we eat halal food it shouldn’t restrict us from trying different cuisines from all over the world.”

Sukaina Rajabali
No one does a flat lay quite like this self-taught food stylist and photographer. While her food shots feature a distinctive shabby chic aesthetic, her travel images are no less lust worthy. Her top tip for nailing the perfect flat lay? “Always think about balance in terms of how many items you have in the shot – odd numbers usually work better — and negative space.”

Dima Sharif Online
Dima Sharif’s Instagram account offers Middle Eastern cooking inspiration in spades, with beautiful shots from her cookbook. Drawing inspiration from “real food and real ingredients,” she also features ingredients, seasonal produce, as well as products from her own gourmet brand, DS Organic Mooneh. “I’m inspired by what’s going on in the world we live in, environmental issues and especially soil and farming,” she explained. And the bonus? Following her might also lead to giveaway wins.

DS Mooneh Story (Part 1, part 2 in the next post) “Quality Is My Legacy.” In the first decade of the 1900’s, my grandfather was a well known produce merchant in Jerusalem. He had a few fruit and vegetable shops opened in the ancient city, from where he supplied hotels, eateries, and the food industry back then with their produce requirements. He did very well and within just a few years he expanded his business to cover many different areas within Palestine. He believed that the key to his success and what makes or breaks any business is primarily the quality of the product and as importantly the building of a relationship with his customers, where his product is catered to their individual requirements. Those practices proved crucial to his career over the years and set him up to expand his business to eventually export his products to more Arab countries as well as Turkey and Europe. As the business expanded and grew, so did his clients’ requirements. And at that time it was somewhat difficult to control the quality of the produce supplied by the many individual farmers. He knew that in order to guarantee the quality he would have to control the production process. Also at that time, the whole modern farming processes were just starting and early versions of untested pesticides were rapidly filling the markets. The idea of ‘chemicals in his food’ did not sit well with him and so he opted to continue purchasing only from the farmers who did not use these chemicals in their farms. That proved easier said than done, as more and more farms were using those chemicals. That was when he decided to take the matter into his own hands and start producing the supply himself as a means to control the process and guarantee the standards and quality he was after. Therefore, in the early 1930’s, he bought pieces of land in the Jordan Valley, East of the River Jordan, and started his own fruit and vegetable farms. Those farms were the first man-made farms in Jordan and through the years became widely known as the oldest, largest and best quality farms in the whole of Jordan. Doing so, he was able to produce the quality he believed in (part 2 next)

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Halal Gems
The ultimate authority on halal restaurants in London and beyond, this Instagram account provides the inside scoop on where to find the best food — they have got a great eye for hidden gems — with a mouthwatering parade of images of burgers, bakes, ice cream and desserts.

Dalia’s Kitchen
This stylish Syrian-German based in Dubai combines images of things she cooks up in her (equally stylish) kitchen with quick recipe videos and endearing family pictures.
Saudi Food Eman
Providing much-needed insight into Saudi Arabian cuisine — and with it, Saudi culture — this YouTube star has curated her Instagram account into sequential posts highlighting ingredients, recipe videos and the final product. The pictures are as bright and colorful as the food itself.
Halal Girl About Town
Going by her Instagram feed, HGAT is probably the embodiment of the location-independent digital nomad. Her feed is flooded with all the yum stuff she eats at home base London — from pide to pizza — and delicious shots from her travels.
This lifestyle influencer has a great eye for top shots (cue, fabulous flat lays) for her food images, which she mixes up with fashion, luxury and parenting posts.

Inside Fishbone, the latest restaurant from Chef Susy Massetti

Fishbone is by Chef Susy Massetti. (Supplied)
Updated 21 February 2020

Inside Fishbone, the latest restaurant from Chef Susy Massetti

MANAMA: Chef Susy Massetti is a long-established star of the region’s culinary scene — from five-star hotel kitchens in the UAE and Bahrain to her unique concept at Bahrain’s multi-award-winning Masso by Chef Susy Massetti.

Having left Masso just over two years ago, many Gulf foodies were left wondering where she had gone. The answer is Fishbone, a gorgeous spot tucked away in the Novotel Al-Dana Resort, close to town but with a seaside feel, where she has had a hand in everything from the interior setup — even down to the fabric design — to, of course, the kitchen and menu (which, by the way, is not all seafood).

The restaurant has a gorgeous, and uber-romantic, outdoor terrace with liberal sprinkling of fairy lights. (Supplied)

I was lucky enough to try out a selection of chef’s recommendations on a cool evening recently — and no, this is not the customary British obsession with the weather, but an excuse to mention the gorgeous, and uber-romantic, outdoor terrace with its liberal sprinkling of fairy lights. I chose to sit inside because of the chill, but it will surely be warmer soon.

I was by the ceviche, knowing it to be one of Chef Susy’s signature dishes. But, instead, I went with the recommendation of Fishbone’s Poke Bowl — sushi-grade tuna with avocado, red onions, sesame seeds, coriander and black rice, with Asian dressing.

Chef Susy Massetti is a long-established star of the region’s culinary scene. (Supplied)

Firstly, it looks beautiful, with the black rice adding a visual twist. And that same black rice also contributes to the texture mix, slightly rougher and nuttier than its white counterpart. The abundant raw tuna is a fish lover’s dream, fresh and succulent. The flavor additions are a perfect mix, giving just the right piquancy without overpowering the tuna. If you’re not a fan of coriander, don’t feel shy about asking for it to be omitted, the kitchen is very happy to oblige — though you’ll be missing out slightly.

For my main course, I was delighted to discover a whole section of the menu devoted to truffles. In an ‘Every day’s a school day’ moment, Chef Susy informed me that, as well as working with top-quality imports, she’s also a big fan of local truffles. I never even knew such a thing existed. Apparently, in season, the desert sands of Saudi Arabia are abundant with both white and black truffles and they’re particularly plentiful after rainfall.

Fishbone is a gorgeous spot tucked away in the Novotel Al-Dana Resort in Bahrain. (Supplied) 

I chose white truffle risotto. In my view, it’s the ultimate comfort food, and I wasn’t disappointed. The Arborio rice was perfectly cooked — tender and creamy without a hint of stickiness. The generous portion of wafer-thin truffle slices, pungent, and with that unmistakable delicate taste, was the cherry on the cake, so to speak.

Purely in the interests of research, you understand, I went for a second main of Branzino Al Limone — seabass fillet with a classic lemon-and-caper sauce. Delicious! The flesh was that perfect consistency of fall-off-the-fork tender but still firm enough to retain its robust meaty texture and the accompanying sauce demonstrates the skill of the kitchen — the simplest dishes are often the hardest to get right.

In season, the desert sands of Saudi Arabia are abundant with both white and black truffles and they’re particularly plentiful after rainfall. (Supplied)

At this point, I have to confess that I should have taken the advice on the menu: “Life is short, leave space for the cake.” With choices including chocolate toffee pudding with mascarpone cream, strawberries with jaggery and balsamic syrup, and baked yoghurt with fresh berries, I would have been very much in my element. Sadly, I simply could not fit any more in — the price for having two main courses. However, I shall treat my omission as an excuse to return, not that one is needed.

And if you’re in Saudi Arabia, you don’t need to wait for your next trip across the causeway to sample Chef Susy’s culinary creations, as you’ll also find her at the recently launched Eat’sy on the corniche in Alkhobar. I feel a road trip coming on.