Bringing Ramadan from Mecca to Main Street
By Arsalan Iftikhar
Growing up in the 1980’s, I remember how difficult it was to find halal food anywhere for millions of us American Muslims. Now only 30 years later, our new generation of millennial Muslims is now a witness to diverse Muslim representation in professional sports, popular culture and mainstream cuisine in ways never seen before. In the culinary realm, Saffron Road has become a pioneer in helping to bring halal food to our local grocery store aisles.
I remember when I had dinner with Saffron Road CEO Adnan Durrani a few years ago, I asked him what motivated him to start a halal food company like Saffron Road. He basically told me that he envisioned a halal food brand that also embodied ethical consumerism: sustainable farm practices, humanely raised livestock, organic ingredients with no GMOs, no artificial ingredients, fair trade practices, and no antibiotics – ever. In addition to providing top-notch halal gourmet meals, he told me that he created Saffron Road (the company name was inspired by the legendary ‘Silk Road’ caravan route that epically connected the cultures – from Italy to China) to celebrate diverse global cuisine from many different parts of the world.
I remember the days when my entire freezer was filled with Saffron Road frozen entrees to feed me during past Ramadans. It’s awesome to enjoy Saffron Road’s restaurant quality halal dishes, prepared in small batches, like Vegetable Pad Thai, Enchiladas Al Chipotle and Chicken Biryani, that are quick and convenient to heat up for an iftar. Saffron Road’s entrees are not only clean label and Better For You, but I always knew that I was both nourishing my body inwardly by eating authentic halal world cuisines, made from grass-fed cattle, wild-caught fish, and no hormones, antibiotics or GMOs, as well as outwardly nourishing my spirit when I broke my fast every sunset.
Sharing an evening Ramadan meal (called “iftar”) with friends and family is one of the daily highlights of this Muslim holy month. After abstaining from water and food during daylight hours, when it comes time to break our fast at sunset each day, many Muslims break their fasts with cold water and fresh juicy dates before diving into their iftar evening meals.
The quality and authentic taste of Saffron Road’s brand new shelf stable meals, like Chickpea Masala, are off the charts amazing. No matter what your cultural affinity is, everyone at iftar loves a comfort food like Chickpea Masala. And Saffron Road’s is so good, everyone at your iftar table will think you made it from scratch. It’s currently only available in certain Costco stores – so, especially since it’s ambient (has a long shelf life), do a stock up trip to Costco and fill your Ramadan pantry before it runs out.
Another amazing new product line that is hitting the shelves just in time for this Ramadan are Saffron Road’s new Japanese noodle bowls: Shoyu Ramen Bowl, Sesame Ginger Udon Bowl, and Tan Tan Ramen Bowl, all with Chicken and complimented by rich halal bone-broth and traditional ingredients, like imported Asian noodles, white miso, freshly ground ginger, shitake mushrooms, and hearty bok choy.
These bowls are rich in protein, nutrient-dense, easy to digest, and soothing in flavor. Broths are the ideal fast opener for iftar, before then partaking in a heavier meal, and very common in Morocco and Middle East, since soup compensates for lost fluids (especially during this year’s long summer day fasts).
For the health-conscious snackers in your family, Saffron Road can also be found in your chip aisle with healthy alternatives to snacking which can keep some inches off your waistline. My wife loves to make healthy nachos with their Saffron Road ChickBean Crisps– which is a colorful mosaic of real vegetables—lentils, peas, sweet potatoes and chickpeas- filled with 4 grams of plant-based protein in each serving.
Finally, the gourmet chefs in your family will also love Saffron Road’s simmer sauces which allow you to create culinary masterpieces with their coconut curry, pad Thai, tikka masala and Korean stir-fry sauce, choices to satiate every diverse craving at your dining room table.
As Muslims worldwide prepare for 30 days of Ramadan fasting by praying 5 times a day towards Mecca, we should take a moment to appreciate pioneers like Saffron Road who are making it easier to find ethically-sourced, clean label, Better For you, and 100% halal meals at your local grocery stores right here on Main Street.
Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, founder of TheMuslimGuy.com and author of SCAPEGOATS: How Islamophobia Helps Our Enemies & Threatens Our Freedoms.
This Ramadan we are partnering with LaunchGood to help support a different cause both locally and globally.