It’ Friday! Sadly, it is the last Friday of August, signifying the impending end of summer 🙁 Today, I’m going to share with you one of the hidden gems in Calgary. Hopefully, it will cheer you up and get you ready for the long weekend!
One of our close friends, Moe, is a Muslim and is only permitted to eat halal food. For those of you who are not familiar with the concept of Halal, it refers to food that is permissible for Muslims to eat or drink under the Islamic Shariʻah law. So… what can and can’t they eat? Pork and alcoholic drinks are considered a big no-no! Most seafood is halal, except shellfish and fish without scales. They can eat beef and chicken as long as they are slaughtered and prepared in accordance to the Dhabiha (or Zabiha) method.
Unfortunately, most Calgary restaurants do not serve halal meat. Usually, when we dine out together, Moe can only select vegetarian or seafood dishes on the menu. Even for those dishes, he has to make sure the broth is not made with pork and there is no squid, clam, crab, mussel, scallop or eel. Poor Moe! I was so sad sometimes when I finally found a good restaurant and realized that we couldn’t take him there. For example, Charcut (There is literally ONE dish that he can eat and I feel bad to bring him there and make him order that one dish he might not like)
One weekend, when a group of us tried to decide on a restaurant to visit, Moe joyfully suggested Safari Grill- an Indian influenced East African restaurant that serves halal meat. At last, he could order anything from the menu without worries!
As soon as we entered the restaurant, we were greeted by exotic decor imported from East African countries. We were amazed how thematic this place is. With the zebra prints everywhere (from table clothes, chairs, wall paper to plates), it gives you a true jungle feel. (although it could make you feel a bit dizzy after a while)
I had never felt so lost at a restaurant before. Kev and I were new to East African cuisine so we didn’t know what to order. Thanks to Moe, we were able to narrow it down and pick a few things to start with.
While waiting for our food, the server brought us a tray of condiments that included green chili chutney, hot sauce, tamarind sauce, and creamy Indian raita made of yogurt and herbs.
First arrived at our table was the masala mogo ($8.5), deep-fried cassava with crushed tomatoes and spices. They were gigantic and tasted similar to fries, except a bit more starchy and saucy. Even though the cassava were coated with tomato sauce, they were still crunchy. I liked the pungent, aromatic flavor they delivered. Delicious!!
Their wings ($12) came with a choice of teriyaki, salt & pepper, honey garlic, mild, medium, hot, or suicide masala sauce. We chose salt & pepper since Kev couldn’t handle spicy food. The chicken tasted wonderful! The skin was perfectly crispy while the meat remained moist and juicy. As a matter of fact, there was no noticeable difference in taste between halal and non-halal chicken.
For the main dish, we ordered afrique mishkaki ($18.5), which came with grilled BBQ chicken cubes marinated in peri peri, corn and masala chipsi. The chicken cubes were colored in red with the spices and grilled to crisp. Tasted mildly spicy with a touch of exotic flavor. I loved the masala chips. They were very addictive!
Lastly, we had the forodhani platter ($32). The plate was covered with BBQ chicken, ribs, mishkaki’s beef, chicken and prawns. The blend of African spices made the ribs and chicken very flavorful. Personally, I preferred the chicken over beef. I found the beef slightly dryer.
It was a fun night exploring exotic cuisine with our friends, Moe and Caleb. Big thanks for Moe for introducing us to such a cozy, lovely restaurant. We enjoyed the yummy food very much. What a great find!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a party to attend.
If you’re free, you can join me at Fiesta Friday!
Thank you to Angie from the Novice Gardener and to our co-hosts.