Yes, believe it or not New Jersey is home to not one but two Little India’s.
One is in Jersey City and one in Iselin. These are some of the largest Indian communities in the United States. Both communities are vibrant, very ethnic neighborhoods that add to the special diversity of New Jersey.
Since 9-11, and being a 9-11 survivor myself, I thought to showcase these neighborhoods for the mere fact that they are still struggling to shake off the bad stigma that the events of that tragic day has left on the minds of many people throughout the world.
India consists of many different religions – Christianity, Buddhism, Hindu, and, yes, Muslim, too. And, just because you see some Arabic writing on the front of an Indian shop or food market doesn’t mean it should be a place to avoid.
A very close friend of mine, who is married to an Indian woman, brought me down to the “Little India” in Iselin. I was blown away as to how seriously wonderful and truly AUTHENTIC of a neighborhood it was. Safe, clean and all stores doing their very best to put out an authentic Indian product with pride.
Delicious foods, beautiful clothing stores, wonderful groceries, all kinds of teas and even music stores. What blew my mind was that I didn’t see many non-Indians frequenting the shops.
In talking to many of the store owners, they confided in me that this was the problem, many of the shops only cater to the Indian population. The struggle was for them to reach beyond the local Indian base and tap into a steady flow of non-Indians from outside the community.
I’ve done an extensive amount of travel and from what I heard and saw in Iselin was the real deal. This neighborhood is about as close to India as your going to get without leaving the States and it is a “gem” that needs to be revealed to the greater public.
I was privileged enough to be invited into Shalimar “Halal Meat and Grocery” store. Surf their website to get a glimpse of the specialty items offered > http://ow.ly/9LFZP
Halal meats are butchered in a very humane way and follow strict guidelines that I explain in great detail with the owner of the market on the show. But for a quick explanation Halal is very similar to Kosher, except that in Halal, a prayer is said prior to the butchering of the animal.
Then, the meat is hung and drained of all blood prior to further butchering. What I learned from our Halal expert was that Jews who are Kosher can eat Halal and Muslims can eat Kosher meats. Christians since they don’t have any butchering restrictions in their diets can enjoy Halal meat, too.
Fresh cut meat, including game meats, such as goat, are all butchered on the premises. The fact that this butcher shop carries goat all year long may interest some Christians, especially at this time of the year with Easter coming up.
Traditional goat dishes are a very Mediterranean way to celebrate Easter. Due to the fact that goat is not easy to find, many who would celebrate an Easter feast with goat have taken it out of their repetoire of cooking.
At Shalimar, there is never any shortage of goat and the people there will gladly sell you even the smallest amount. For more information on this Halal butcher shop click the Shalimar link above.
Little India-Oak Tree Rd. information click > http://ow.ly/9LEW1
The owners of these Indian shops in Iselin, N.J. are here seeking a better life just like you and I. Just because you may see some Arabic writing on the signs or you do not truly understand the culture, doesn’t mean it’s a place to avoid.
If anything, it is definitely a place to investigate, enjoy and experience to enhance your life in an intelligent way – even if its just to take a ride down to the neighborhood and pick up that long lost goat for that celebratory Easter dish.