Profile picture of Sara Sadat and Akbar Sadat at their restaurant

Observing Halal

Ensuring traditional meat options are available on PEI

When Akbar Sadat and his wife, Sara, moved to PEI as refugees in 2007, they were able to get halal meat from the local mosque, but there was very little available. After some asking around, he was able to make a connection with the people at Shaw Meats who allowed him to produce his own halal meat for his family and close friends. In 2014, the couple also opened Sadat’s Cuisine, PEI’s only halal restaurant and the only Afghani restaurant in the Maritimes.

In November of 2015, Sadat was approached by Atlantic Beef Products (ABP) to work for them to help with the growing demand for halal meat. ABP is certified by the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of Canada to prepare halal meat. When he started with ABP, Sadat was slaughtering about 50 to 60 animals a day, now he and his coworker, Hamza, slaughter between 120 and 150 animals a day, which are sold in locations across the Maritimes as well as Quebec and Ontario.

The Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of Canada describes halal as “an Arabic word meaning ‘lawful’ or ‘permitted’” and the “dietary standard of Muslims.” It further explains that halal meat is any meat that is not swine or pork (or its by-products); it is not carnivorous animals, birds of prey, or land animals without external ears; it is from an animal that has been properly slaughtered and bled; and the animal has been killed in the name of Allah (God).

Sadat describes it simply as “blessed meat” and explains “it is a food tradition similar to Kosher in the Jewish culture.”

Sadat outlined the process of slaughtering halal meat. When ready for slaughter, the animal is stunned and hung, then a blessing in Arabic is said which loosely translates to “in the name of Allah”. Then the blood vessels in the animal’s neck are sliced. Because the animal’s heart is still pumping, it bleeds out. It is a quick process which, from start to finish, is less than two minutes. Every animal that is slaughtered has been touched and blessed before it dies. The bleeding process ensures that any contaminations in the animal have been removed which then make it proper for Muslims to eat.

For the Sadats, their restaurant is important not only because it provides an income to support their children, but because it allows them to share some of their culture with Islanders, including the halal meat Sadat produces.

“Afghani food is different than many other types of food,” Sadat said. Because Afghanistan is close to northeastern China, India, and is bordered by different Middle Eastern countries, the food in Afghanistan has been influenced by other food cultures which have blended to become its own unique style of food. Lamb, beef, and rice are staples of many dishes featured at Sadats, though there are many vegetarian options as well.

Recently, the Sadats were given notice by Holland College that the building their restaurant is located in will be torn down to make room for new student housing.
“This is a terrible time,” Sadat said, “as everyone is getting ready for the upcoming tourist season, we have to focus on figuring out how to continue our restaurant.” They will, however, be able to stay at their current location on Grafton St for the summer.

Although looking for a new location and figuring out the necessary financing is frustrating, the couple will relocate their restaurant and stay on Prince Edward Island.

“We like PEI because it is peaceful, quiet, and the people here are friendly. The bigger cities cause a lot of stress and we don’t want that,” Sadat said.

They have to be out in a couple of months, and although the thought of starting over could be overwhelming to some, the Sadats are not discouraged by this unexpected change. “We are tough,” said Sara Sadat, “as refugees, we have been through worse than this. I know we will be okay again.”

About Grace Kimpinski

Grace's passion to be creative combined with her drive to get things done make her an invaluable member of the Salty team. As the sole-support parent to a teenaged... bottomless-pit... er... son, she strives to be a 'smart' food shopper. Although she's not keen on writing about herself, she is very keen on eating a great BBQ'd meal in summer and a hearty stew in winter.

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