The objective of this information is to help non-Muslims to have a better understanding of the term ‘Halal’ and its significance to Muslims.
Though Islam is a unique religion, it is necessary to recognize that Muslim people are not a single homogenous society. There are more than 400,000 Muslims in Australia alone who came from over 70 countries.
Meanwhile, ‘Halal’ is a term signifying any object or an act that is permitted to use or engage in, according to Islamic law.
What is “Jerk” Cooking?
Jerk refers to a process where meat, vegetables, or fruits are seasoned and prepared. This technique comes from Jamaica.
The common cooking style uses a marinade or paste that incorporates pimento (often called allspice) and scotch bonnet peppers or habanero. Pimenta o pimento is a Spanish word for pepper that the early European navigators mistook for black pepper, so they called it pimento.
The meat is then marinated and slow-smoked over a piece of pimento wood.
What Does the Word “Jerk” Come From?
According to most food historians\, jerk is a Spanish word that proceeds via the Peruvian word charqui, a term for dried strips of meat like what we describe Jerky.
The word originated as a noun and then matured into a verb, as in “Jerking,” which means poking holes in the meat so the spices could penetrate. Jerk cooking experts, like the native Jamaican, and author Helen Willinsky of “Jerk from Jamaica” states that the term Jerk could have also come from the turning of the meat in the marinade or from the process or jerking a strip of roasted meat.
How it All Started
Most historians acknowledge Jamaica was established by the Arawak Indians over 2,500 years ago. They used similar procedures to smoke and dry meat in the sun or over a slow fire, which were well-known in Peru. This was essential as the dried beef could be taken on adventures and eaten as is or chopped and reconstituted in boiling water.
This ancient method goes on today and is recognized as jerky.
In 1492 Columbus claimed it for Spain and controlled the Arawak Indians. Soon they died and were substituted by African slaves. In the 1700s some of the slaves fled and hid in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica and became identified as Maroons.
They had to keep watch firmly to avoid the British army from being recaptured. With food in low supply, they learned to catch wild boars in the forest. Using salt, peppers, and spices they learned to store the meat. They have no idea when their next kill would be.
The meat was spiced and covered in leaves to keep. When it came time to cook it, they just set it all in with hot rocks then cover or barbecue it over a frame of wood.
This emerged with the use of various spices to the cooking style that we know today as Jerk.
The Jerk Chicken
Jerk chicken is grilled chicken marinated in a spicy sauce that is traditionally served in Jamaica.
The poultry is seasoned with a jerk sauce or marinade that includes allspice, chiles, cinnamon, garlic, thyme, onion, soy sauce, nutmeg, lime juice, olive oil, and brown sugar. Since this sauce cooks quickly and easily on the grill, the chicken is gradually cooked to let the flavors of the sauce seep into the meat and to help the meat retain moisture.
The Modern Authentic Jerk Cooking Today
Jerk “huts” are scattered all over the Caribbean Islands, and you can surely find them by the lovely smell it produces.
Many times they are sheds that are octagonal or circular made around a telephone pole to hold the thatched roof. Dining and cooking are done outside.
These days, there are loads of Jamaica vacation online for the enthusiastic Jerk lover. Thus, it is now more affordable than ever to catch a trip to the islands and encounter the local flavor of authentic Jamaican Jerk.
Jamaica’s Best Kept Secret
Be bold and bring your taste buds on an island journey. For jerk aficionados, the village of Walkerswood in Jamaica is the go-to.
This tiny village sat above Ocho Rios which is the home to the Walkerswood Caribbean Foods. It is a small production facility shrouded in the pungent fragrance of black pepper, scallions, and Scotch Bonnet peppers.
Halal is an Arabic word meaning ‘authorized’ or ‘permitted.’ When it comes to food, it follows a model as instructed in the Qur’an.
The opposite of halal is Haram, which means ‘forbidden.’
Halal and Haram are general terms that refer to all aspects of life. These terms are generally applied with food products, meat products, food ingredients, personal care products, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and food contact materials.
Nonetheless, there are still many unclear things and require further learning as to whether something is Halal or Haram. Hence, they are called mashbooh, which means ‘uncertain.’
A More Comprehensive Definition of Halal
In general, every food is deemed halal in Islam unless it is especially forbidden by the Qur’an or the Hadith. By official description, Halal foods are:
- Free from several elements that Muslims are prohibited to consume according to Islamic law (Shariah).
- Processed, produced, manufactured, made, or any stored foods using utensils, equipment, or machinery that have been purified according to Islamic law.
Muslims eat to have a strong and healthy physique. That way, they can be capable of contributing their knowledge and effort for the welfare of the community. It is specified in a Hadith that the prayer of a person is denied by Allah if he consumes Haram.
That said, the following are considered Haram:
- Alcoholic drinks and intoxicants
- Non-Halal Animal Fat
- Enzymes (Microbial Enzymes are allowed)
- Gelatine – from non-Halal source (except for fish gelatine)
- L-cysteine (if from human hair)
- Lipase (only animal lipase need be avoided)
- Non-Halal Animal Shortening
- Pork, Bacon / Ham and anything from pigs
- Unspecified Meat Broth
- Rennet (All forms should be bypassed except for plant / microbial /
- synthetic – rennet collected from a halal slaughtered animal is allowed).
- Stock (a combination of mixed species broth or meat stock)
- Tallow (non-Halal species)
- Carnivorous animals, birds of prey, and other animals that fall in this category
- Foods tainted with any of the above products
Halal and Haram
Foods that are composed of ingredients such as gelatin, enzymes, emulsifiers, and flavoring are questionable because the origin of these ingredients is not yet known.
In the meat and poultry food production, animals like cows, veal, lamb, sheep, goats, turkeys, chickens, ducks, game birds, bison, and venison are deemed Halal. However, they must be cooked according to Islamic laws.
Fish and seafood (except for crocodiles, alligators, and frogs) are commonly acceptable for Muslims, unless they have dietary issues or allergy. The cooking method for the fish or seafood should not include alcohol (like batter or wine or anything considered Haram).
In cases of urgency, prohibited things may still become permissible (halal) for the span of the emergency or need, as Islam puts a priority on life over death.
Islamic Halal Meat Preparation and Supervision
In Australia, the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) approves and guides Islamic slaughtermen for the meat and poultry industry.
AFIC’s Halal Service Manager travels throughout Australia to several abattoirs or farms, meat and non-meat food companies, pharmaceutical companies, and cosmetic companies to implement Islamic supervision, inspection, and Halal preparation.
Halal products are obtained from animals or poultry that have been cooked according to Islamic law. Halal commodities and production are correctly distributed and distinguished from non-Halal products.
Muslims are only permitted to consume meat that has been cooked according to Islamic law. That’s because they believe that Islamic rule on killing animals is created to lessen the pain and distress that they undergo.
Meanwhile, AFIC has strict laws concerning Islamic slaughter:
- The slaughterer must be a sound adult Muslim.
- The slaughterer must speak the name of God before cutting.
- The name of God is spoken to affirm the sanctity of life and that the animal is being killed for food with God’s consent.
- The animal must be executed by cutting the throat with one continuous movement of a sharp knife.
- The cut must split at least three of the trachea, esophagus, and the two blood vessels on either side of the throat.
- The spinal cord must not be cut.
- Animals must be well handled before being killed.
- Animals must not witness other animals being killed.
- The knife must not be sharpened in front of the animal.
- The knife blade must be free from blemishes that might shred the wound.
- The animal must not be in an uneasy position.
- The animal must be permitted to bleed out and be fully dead before further processing.
Some experts state that the animal killed in this process does not suffer if the cut is done quickly and cleanly. That’s because it dissipates consciousness before the brain can sense any pain.
However, there is ongoing debate that Halal slaughter is inhumane. That’s because permitting animals to bleed to death is scientifically untrue.
An animal’s throat is cut in one fast motion with a razor-sharp knife. Unconsciousness is completed within seconds and death befalls due to cerebral hypoxia, not blood loss.
Is Jerk Chicken Halal?
Halal jerk chicken recipes are prepared the same process as any jerk cooking. Meanwhile, any Halal meat that was produced by slaughtering in accordance with Islamic Law is considered Halal.
Muslim slaughter is an entity to the religion. The process of slaughtering must be according to Islamic Law, as the process is meant to show respect to them and to thank Allah for His provisions.
The act of slaughtering must assure the animal undergoes as little suffering as possible. So, if the chicken on your jerk chicken is slaughtered according to Islamic Law then it is considered Halal.
Halal Jerk Chicken Recipe:
Jerk Chicken with Rice and Peas by This Muslim Girl Bakes
Ingredients For the Jerk Chicken
- 3 Peeled Garlic Cloves
- ½ peeled and roughly chopped Onion
- 1 large Roughly chopped Green Chilli
- 3 teaspoons of Vegetable Oil
- 3 tablespoons of Hot Pepper Sauce
- 1 and ½ teaspoons of Salt
- 1 teaspoon of Allspice
- ½ teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon of Black Pepper
- 1 teaspoon of Dried Thyme
- 2 teaspoons of Soft Light Brown Sugar
- 4 teaspoons of Soy Sauce
- 4 teaspoons of Lime Juice
- 2 teaspoons of Ginger Paste
- 1 kg of Whole Chicken Pieces (you can 6 small legs + 3 necks)
For the Rice and Peas
- 210 grams of Basmati Rice
- 480 ml of Water
- 105 ml of Coconut Milk
- 150 grams of Tinned Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ teaspoon of Salt
- 3 finely sliced Spring Onions
For the Grilled Corn
- 3 Corn on the Cob
For the Peppers + Onions
- 3 large sliced Red Peppers
- 2 roughly sliced Red Onions
- Any leftover in the Kidney Beans
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon of Coconut Oil
To marinade the jerk chicken
- Aside from the chicken, place everything in a food processor and blend them until it is smooth.
- Add the mixture to the chicken and coat well.
- Leave the chicken to marinate for a few hours or overnight inside the fridge.
To bake the jerk chicken
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
- Put the chicken into a baking dish and cover it with foil. Bake it for 30 minutes.
- Uncover and turn the chicken. Bake it for another 30 minutes. Then, remove the cover and flip.
- Bake the chicken uncovered for another 15 minutes or until it is fully cooked through.
To serve the jerk chicken
- Sprinkle the chicken with finely sliced spring onions and enjoy with plenty of fresh lime.
To make the rice and peas
- Other than the spring onions, put all the ingredients into a pan and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, cover the pan with a lid and turn the heat to the lowest. Let it cook for 20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
- Stir with a fork and add in the sliced spring onions. Serve with lots of fresh lime.
To make the grilled corn
- Take out the outer husk from the corn and grill over a gas flame, turning now and then.
- Grill the corn until it is well toasted on all sides.
To make the peppers and onions
- Preheat some oil in a large pan over medium heat.
- Add the peppers, onions, kidney beans, salt, and pepper to the pan. Stir-fry until it is slightly charred and cooked to your liking.
- Sprinkle it with sliced spring onions and serve.
To serve everything together
- Put the chicken, rice, corn, and vegetables onto a plate and drizzle it all over the delicious roasting juices from the chicken.
- Squeeze some fresh lime on everything and enjoy!
Islam is not only a religion. It is a way of life with etiquette, rules, and manners directing every facet of life.
Since food is an essential part of daily life, food laws provide a special significance. Muslims are supposed to eat for survival, to maintain good health, and not to live for eating. In Islam, eating is deemed to be a subject of worship of God like prayer, fasting, alms-giving, and other religious actions.
Islam lays great importance on how an animal’s life should end, which has to be under Islamic laws. That’s because life is a divine blessing. If the life of an animal has to be terminated for human survival, then its life should only be ended in the name of God.
Hence, the phrase bismillah (‘In the name of God) must be said before slaughtering an animal.