Rest assured that during your trip to Andalusia, enjoying Halal cuisine will be easy and delicious. Especially in those cities and destinations that are likely to be part of your travel plan: Cordoba, Granada, Seville, Malaga, Costa del Sol.
Andalusia is one of the Spanish regions with the highest Muslim population, and it's also where you'll find a wide range of Halal and Muslim-friendly restaurants. But, to make your culinary journey even more enjoyable with peace of mind, here are some savvy tips and insights.
Image Credit: LET’S GO HALAL
Most Halal restaurants in Andalusia are establishments whose owners and staff are Muslims. Especially in central and tourist areas, you'll find numerous Moroccan, Turkish, Indian, Pakistani, Syrian, Lebanese, and other restaurants. Cuisines from Muslim-majority countries or countries with a significant Muslim population. Many of them are easily identifiable by the visible Halal symbols, but some do not display any such signage. Why not? Because their main clientele are Spanish or Europeans of other nationalities who are mostly non-Muslims and for whom, therefore, a Halal label is not relevant. However, these restaurants are entirely pork-free, and their meats are Halal certified.
So, if you find a restaurant that appeals to you and offers a cuisine you assume is probably Halal but lacks visible Halal symbols, don't hesitate to ask the staff. It's highly likely that their menu is entirely Halal.
You can find reference to some of these restaurants and their specific status in relation to their Halal qualification in the guide 'Andalusia for Muslim travelers' , published by Turespaña, the Spain Tourism Board.
In Spain and Andalusia, it's not uncommon to find self-declared Halal restaurants that serve alcohol, which is, indeed, a great contradiction. We would say it is an ‘impossible paradox’. This happens because most of their customers are non-Muslim, especially Spaniards, for whom alcohol is a common feature in restaurants.
Alcohol-free restaurants are usually located near mosques or in areas with a high concentration of Muslim immigrants. Some may even be found in central or tourist areas. The only type of Halal eateries where the absence of alcohol is not surprising are fast-food style establishments that focuses on take-away or delivery services, like kebab houses.
Image Credit: TURESPAÑA
Yes, you can find certified Halal foods in Andalusia with the assurance provided by local certifying authorities. Spain has several certifying bodies, with the Halal Institute of Junta Islámica being one of the most important and established. This institution is headquartered in Cordoba and holds the main international recognitions from the Muslim-majority countries: EIAC-UAE, JAKIM-Malaysia, BPJPH and MUI -Indonesia, MoPH-Qatar, IMANOR-Morocco, MUIS-Singapore.
Keep in mind that they can extend their certification to an entire establishment or specific services or products within a restaurant or hotel.
Image Credit: PETIT PALACE HOTELS
While most hotels in Andalusia do not have a specific Halal offering for Muslim tourists, they typically have a breakfast buffet that includes foods that are originally Halal. These options may include a variety of fruits, juices, cereals, eggs, and different types of bread. The pastries increasingly use oil instead of animal fats, but it's possible that you won't see specific labels indicating this. In such cases, it's best to inquire with the staff.
Some hotels offer Halal food on request. You can find some of them in the guide 'Andalusia for Muslim travelers' published by Turespaña, the Spain Tourism Board.
Image Credit: TURESPAÑA
An important part of the travel experience is discovering new flavors and savoring local gastronomy. Spanish and Andalusian cuisine is diverse and of high quality, but the inclusion of the Halal offer in the menus is not very widespread, beyond restaurants with Muslim owners.
The good news is that some of the most popular Spanish dishes are based on Halal ingredients like gazpacho, salmorejo, honey aubergines, potato omelette, squid sandwiches. Or they have Halal versions, such as fish or seafood paella.
They may have suffered cross contamination when you consume them in establishments that are not Halal or, at least, self-declared Halal. It's essential to be cautious when dining out.
Pork is usually present on the menu of most restaurants in Andalusia. Especially ham (cured pork leg), which is one of the gastronomic ‘stars’ of the region and of all of Spain. Spaniards usually consume cured ham, uncooked, cut into thin slices and portions, so it is not likely to contaminate other dishes ... However, it is sometimes used as a “topping” in some unexpected recipes. This is the case, for example, with salmorejo (a delicious dish typical in Cordoba, a kind of cold cream based on tomato, olive oil and bread), to which they are usually added ham shavings. (We recommend that you try salmorejo, it is delicious, and simply insist that they do not add ham ‘toppings’).
Sometimes, some vegetable or legume creams or soups may have been cooked with an animal bone, to make them tastier. If you are in a Spanish restaurant that is not vegetarian or does not have any Halal offerings, it is advisable that you ask if the dishes have been prepared by adding some type of meat, bone, or lard even though, at first glance, they are made with Halal ingredients.
However, you can find a quite reliable method when you are in a local Spanish non-Halal restaurant to avoid cross contamination: choose fish, preferably grilled or fried. Fish and meat are typically cooked separately and in different containers to prevent flavor mixing. And Andalusia is a paradise for seafood lovers, with "fried pescaíto" (fried fish) being a gastronomic highlight. Along the coast, especially in Malaga and Costa del Sol, you'll also find "espetos," a local specialty of grilled sardines on skewers.
Let your visit to Andalusia be a complete gastronomic experience, and enjoy exploring the culinary diversity of this wonderful Spanish region!
[Cover Image Credit: TURESPAÑA]