When seeking late night snacks, this Australian creation, called Halal Snack Pack is more than a feed for punters seeking late-night ballast: it’s a dish of the times and a symbol of Australia’s cultural diversity.
What is a Halal Snack Pack?
A Halal Snack Pack is a dish consisting of halal-certified doner kebab meat (lamb, chicken, or beef) and chips (American fries).
The snack pack is traditionally served in a Styrofoam container, and has been described as a staple takeaway dish of kebab shops in Australia.
Kebabs are no longer king: snack packs are now the best seller at your local kebab shop thanks to the Halal Snack Pack Appreciation Society. The wonderful world of Halal Snack Packs, it’s the open-minded food trend with an appreciation society that boasts 140,000 plus members. Only in Australia could something this delicious be invented.
Halal Snack Pack Appreciation Society
The Facebook group was established in December 2015 and is only dedicated to halal snack pack. After its establishment, the group had 16,000 members sign on in its first month, and had almost 90,000 members in April 2016.
The site encourages users to post reviews of halal snack packs they consume at various restaurants and kebab shops throughout Australia. One of the goals of the group is to identify the potential for the world’s best halal snack pack. The reviews includes the following:
Signage: Specifically, how clearly is the word “Halal” promoted on the store’s facade? The bolder the proclamation, the higher the score. Extra points for the HSP being mentioned on the menu. Halal is the way the meat was processed, or a method of slaughtering.
Greeting: An enthusiastic “Hey brother/sister, what can I get you?” is considered a 10. The group has Muslim and non-Muslim members, who refer to one another as “brothers” and “sisters”.
Chips: Crispy is key. Chips should be cooked enough to maintain their structure when covered in cheese, meat and sauces.
Cheese: Was there enough? Was it in the right place (over the chips/mixed through the chips, and under the meat)? And most importantly, did it melt?
Meat: As with kebabs, the quality of the meat varies greatly from store to store. In terms of which meat to place upon the chips, most HSP advocates opt for “mixed” meat, with chicken, lamb and, in rare instances, beef. Meat-to-chip ratio is also critical.
Sauce: The single greatest defining attribute of the Halal Snack Pack, besides its Halal accreditation, is the selection and application of sauces. The ultimate is considered to be the “holy trinity”: garlic sauce, barbecue sauce and chili sauce. Some choose hummus, others sweet chili, but never, ever tomato. Sauces should be applied liberally.
Packaging: While the Halal Snack Pack is a beacon of interfaith, Muslim-friendly tolerance, the same sadly can’t be said for its environmental consideration. It seems only polystyrene (or “poly”, in the language of the Appreciation Society) is enough to garner a maximum rating here.
Price: Expect to pay anything from $11—$17 for a standard serve, depending on the location and the specifics of your order.
Like all subcultural bastions on the internet, the group has adopted its own colloquialized language. A dingo describes someone who has either produced, purchased or posted a sub-par HSP or HSP review (the most dingo of crimes being to order tomato sauce with your “Snacky”), while the term haram is borrowed directly from Arabic, and used to describe any behavior that falls short of the lofty standards of the Halal Snack Pack Appreciation Society. Repeated violations risk a visit from the harambulance.
History of the Halal Snack Pack
According to some, snack packs date back at least to the 1980s. They have since become a quintessential Australian dish. However, variations or similar dishes exist in other countries.
Examples include “doner meat and chips” in the United Kingdom, kapsalon (“barbershop”) in the Netherlands and Belgium, kebabtallrik (“kebab plate”) in Sweden, gyro fries in the United States, and kebab ranskalaisilla (“kebab with French fries”) in Finland. In Adelaide, South Australia, the dish is known as an “AB”.
In late 2015, following the creation of the Facebook group, Halal Snack Pack Appreciation Society, a subculture formed around the dish, it has been known to bring cultures together. This led to wide coverage of the dish in the media, as well as a notable reference by Senator Sam Dastyari in Australian Parliament during a debate about halal certification, which is credited for much of the increase in attention paid to this dish.
It may seem like “just” chips, cheese, meat and sauces, but by supporting halal-certified proprietors and building a community around tolerance and open-mindedness, this beloved snack is as celebratory in its diversity as it is in flavor.
- 1 lb leg of lamb finely sliced
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon freshly squeezed
- 3 cloves garlic pressed
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 oz. grated cheddar
- Hot sauce
- Yogurt sauce
- Barbecue sauce
- Garlic aioli sauce
- Jalapeño pepper
- 1½ lb large potatoes
- 3 cups vegetable oil or beef fat
- Fine salt
- Prepare the marinade.
- In a bowl, add the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, smoked paprika, parsley, pepper and salt.
- Mix well.
- Add the meat and thoroughly impregnate the meat with this mixture.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the meat marinate in the refrigerator for 6 hours.
- Take the lamb out of the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature for an hour.
- Cook the meat on the barbecue, in the pan or on a grill, over medium heat.
- Let stand for 20 minutes.
- Peel the potatoes and soak them whole in lukewarm water for 15 minutes.
- Rinse them thoroughly.
- Cut them into ½ thick slices, then cut these slices into ½ inch wide sticks.
- Rinse the fries under cold water by rubbing them to remove the starch.
- Drain and dry them with a cloth.
- Heat the beef fat or frying oil to 300 F in a fryer or in a deep pan (the temperature is very important).
- Dip the fries in the fat, stirring them occasionally.
- Fry them for 5 minutes. They should not get too much color and should be soft enough when removed from the oil.
- Drain and let cool.
- Immerse the fries a second time with the fat at 340 F.
- As soon as they turn golden, take them out and drain. Season with salt immediately.
- Assembly of the halal snack pack
- Reheat the lamb at medium heat for 2 minutes.
- Spread the hot fries on a plate and immediately cover them with grated cheese.
- Place a generous layer of meat on top and finish with the sauce (or sauces) of your choice, and decorate by alternating the layers.
- Add a few slices of jalapeño peppers on top.
- Serve immediately.