On Halal and Eating Out in Lagos
For a very religious country, you would think Nigerians - almost half of whose population is Muslim - would pay more attention to food that is halal and food that is haram right?
In case you were wondering what that means; Halal is an Arabic word for ‘permissible’ and as a concept applies to the life choices of practicing Muslims but is mostly used to describe certain food and drinks that the Islamic religion according to the Qu’ran deems consumable.
Haram, on the other hand, means ‘not permissible’. Haram food (amongst other things) includes certain meats that do not meet a certain requirement when being prepared; or some things that are just plain forbidden like alcohol and pork.
In countries like Australia and the UK, halal certification for food items and restaurants is imperative, which I think is a really good thing because a significant number of the population practices Islam. In Nigeria, however, halal certification is not a thing; but I think it should be.
Unfortunately, many things in Nigeria are not as they should be.
Think about it, as of 2017, 46% of Nigeria’s population is Muslim. I’m sure it’s a higher number now because of course: babies; but I digress. Nigerian restauranteurs paying closer attention to what food is haram or halal could literally mean more profit for them…right?
And it would definitely help in making our Muslim brothers and sisters feel more included in our society.
Or maybe these restaurants do pay attention and I just haven’t noticed. I’m not Muslim, so I don’t exactly have to go around asking waiters if the chicken in my chicken and waffles is halal. I did hear that the Muslim community takes it upon themselves to investigate abattoirs to make sure that the method in which they slaughter animals is halal, so I guess someone’s paying attention.
Until recently, my knowledge of what is haram/ halal was limited to knowing that pork is haram (I know, no excuse). But as Ramadan creeps closer, I decided to expand my knowledge on haram and halal food, and also (most importantly) find restaurants around Lagos that are halal, for our Muslim peeps who might be looking out for restaurants where they can have Iftar ( breaking of the Ramadan fast after sunset).
After I did some research, I kind of noticed that most of them are owned by Asian residents and it’s *maybe* another piece of evidence to show that Nigerians have not clocked this angle of increasing their profit margin- at least when it comes to Muslims living in Lagos.
Anyway, I promised you a list of a few Halal restaurants near you and so I’m going to get into it now.
I’ll start with Gurunar’s Viceroy located in Victoria Island. Viceroy is owned by Indians, and they offer both Indian (obviously) and Nigerian food. They have meat options for meat-eaters like me, vegetarian options, as well as the famous Indian curry.
Also in VI, open from 11 am till midnight is Al Diwan; a restaurant which specialises in Lebanese, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean dishes.
Arabesque is another place on the Island where you can get not-too-pricey Middle Eastern halal food. I like how the decor of the place plays along with the type of food that is available there.
If you’ve been, you’d know that it is decorated like an Arabian boudoir. Salma’s, on Ozumba Mbadiwe, is another Middle Eastern restaurant that serves a halal menu. During Ramadan last year, they also had a couple Iftar specials.
If you live in Lekki/ Ajah environs, there are a few options there as well like Peppercorn Avenue which is off Admiralty Way in Phase 1. Peppercorn Avenue offers Thai and Indian food; see what I said about most of these places being owned by Asians?
For my mainland people who know that crossing the bridge is stress and don’t want to after fasting all day; to find a halal restaurant when there’s even rice at home, Bungalow is another option. Located in Ikeja GRA and Victoria Island, and specializing in international cuisine like Japanese and Mexican food, Bungalow is a great place to have iftar.
All in all, even if we’ve not hacked halal certification in Nigeria, for inclusion sake; I think there should be halal menu options in every restaurant, to make sure that Muslim patrons and customers are made to feel welcome and are not put off completely.
If you know any other Halal restaurants in Lagos, drop a line in the comments.