Oh Sweet Heavens To read more articles like this, download Halal Gems Magazine here. ZÉNA BUTT We are living in a day and age where the term ‘halal’ is no longer just used to describe the method by which the chicken in our burger or the Wagyu steak on our plate has been slaughtered and the confectionery business is no different. In Britain for example, some chocolates that are revered as British institutions have been certified as halal to accommodate the ever growing demand for Islamically compliant products both at home and abroad. It is a big industry to wade into but one that has been particularly fruitful for Farheen Raza, creator of Aluva Chocolates. Translating as ‘sweet confections’, Aluva is the UK’s first chocolate brand to be 100% fully certified by the UK’s Halal Monitoring Committee (HMC). While the layman may assume that a chocolate bearing the term ‘suitable for vegetarians’ or ‘alcohol free’ inconclusively guarantees the product as halal, Farheen tells me that “there is a need for halal certification to authenticate genuine halal chocolates and set them apart from chocolates that may have been considered permissible but are strictly speaking not halal. Most chocolates contain flavourings and/or vanilla and based on our research most such flavourings and vanilla contain alcohol”. Farheen also explains that many chocolates may also contain other potentially impermissible ingredients such as shellac, animal or insect based emulsifiers and colourings. In keeping with their halal ethos, Aluva also refrain from using genetically modified ingredients in their halal certified chocolates. Stating that the concept of ‘tayyab’ (wholesome) is just as important to the business as their halal status, Farheen tells me “Aluva products do not contain any artificial preservatives or colours and we are moving towards introducing organic certified products as well as low sugar products. Where possible (and there are limitations for a halal certified brand because of market availability of halal ingredients) we use natural flavours and essential oils, spices and nuts to make our chocolates wholesome. We use organic dairy ingredients in all our chocolates and aim to embrace the concept of ‘tayyab’ from product to packaging”. In today’s health conscious environment where ‘free from’ diets are now the norm, variety in the market is imperative and this is a concept that Aluva have bought into. Tapping into a niche market, Farheen is keen to constantly develop the Aluva range and at the moment there are over 35 flavours and an expansive range of products to choose from. With all chocolates handmade and packaged in the UK, Aluva are a luxury brand who are able to offer consumers unrivalled assurance that their produce is halal. As Farheen assures me “each of our products has been through HMC’s stringent lab- testing requirements, which means we can guarantee our customers the assurance they need when purchasing fully accredited halal certified chocolates” – delicious, beautifully packaged and none of the doubt… sounds heavenly to me.