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  • Writer's pictureSpicy Eyes

Episode 2: Eating Halal In Las Vegas

Updated: Apr 17, 2019

The combo plate from Afandi has beef and chicken skewers, plus a kefta (center), a kind of spiced lamb sausage.
You're looking at Afandi's combo plate (yum). Photo by Jeff Scheid.

Hello! We're back with another episode, this time with a feature from Kristy about halal food in Las Vegas (we'll be switching off with the reporting for most episodes going forward).

A note: We were putting the show together last week when the news of the shooting in New Zealand broke. It didn't feel right to release an episode about halal without saying something about the atrocity that has brought so much pain to the community members who shared their time, thoughts and meals with us. We stand with our Muslim friends, and we hope this episode helps create a little more love and understanding.

On to halal. Halal means "permitted," and is used in both food and non-food contexts, as we learned from Shamsuddin Waheed, the imam at the Masjid Ibrahim. Imam Shamsuddin Waheed also explained that much like his congregation, the greater Muslim population in Las Vegas is very diverse (find out where the first Muslims in Las Vegas were from by listening to the episode!).

Profile image of Imam Shamsuddin Waheed inside the Masjid Ibrahim standing in an open, brightly-lit room with a chandelier hanging overhead
Imam Shamsuddin Waheed at the Masjid Ibrahim. Photo by Jeff Scheid.

When it comes to defining halal food, there's pretty lengthy list of requirements—we promised you a link, and here it is. We also mentioned that famed animal scientist Temple Grandin believes halal slaughter can be humane when done correctly. Here's the article that quotes her.

Some of the 99 names of God inscribed in Arabic around the entrance at the Masjid Ibrahim, set against a deep blue sky. Photo by Jeff Scheid.
Some of the 99 names of God at the Masjid Ibrahim. Photo by Jeff Scheid.

But by now, you must be curious about the food we ate because... honestly, didn't it sound delicious? The kaftas that Kristy brought Sonja at the very beginning of the episode were from Afandi, a family-owned restaurant near Charleston and Decatur. Photographer Jeff Scheid shared these beautiful shots with us (click for slideshow):

Kristy also interviewed her friends Summer Thomad and Sofia (Soof) Schersei, who both grew up Muslim in Las Vegas and experienced the challenge of finding halal food back in the '90s and early 2000s. Summer is an amazing writer and you can find links to some of her pieces here. Soof and Kristy met through Camp Anytown, a youth leadership program sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Southern Nevada, where Soof is still involved as a leader.

Profile picture of Soof Schersei standing against a brick wall, holding a sign that reads: "I can be both! / Afghan-American / #breakingdownbarriers"
Soof Schersei (photo courtesy of Soof Schersei)

Profile image of Summer Thomad, wearing a deep maroon hijab and red shirt, against a desert sunset.
Summer Thomad (photo courtesy of Summer Thomad)

To learn more about what is possibly the most well-known halal food in the U.S., Kristy spoke with Justin Bartek, a representative for The Halal Guys, an incredibly popular franchise that serves halal meat around the world. We read on Eater that they were the first to open a halal restaurant inside a casino in the U.S., a fact that Justin couldn't confirm but said might be true.

And last but not least, we introduced The Daily Nugget, a small inside-episode audio postcard of something delicious that we'll try to include at the end of every episode. This Daily Nugget features Brett Boyer, a pastry chef who started Desert Bread. The sounds are very crusty and very delicious.

As always, thank you for listening. We're also so grateful to Jeremy Klewicki, who made the music for the show (check out his Instagram, where he's currently posting beats from a 30 day beat challenge); to Maureen Adamo, the incredible designer responsible for our logo and website; and to Jeff Scheid, veteran photojournalist who has been documenting some of the Spicy Eyes adventures and sharing his photos with us. Here are links to the halal restaurants we mentioned in the show. Check out more on Yelp.

If you haven't subscribed yet, here's where to do it:

This is a lady tricep, a pastry made at Afandi with rolls of phyllo dough wrapped around a cheesy filling, with crumbled pistachio and sweet syrup drizzled on top. Mouth. Watering.
Oh yeah - THIS is a lady tricep! (You'll have to listen to understand.) Photo by Jeff Scheid.

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