The rise of Halal BBQ Pitmasters of North Texas from a single brisket into a flourishing business

The conversation started at the parties. It was a common topic of conversation.

Neghae mawla was asked when they’d have a contest after a friend had posted a picture of brisket on Facebook. Zahid Ahmad stated that his wife had given him permission to have one. And so, a few weeks later, in 2017, six guys prepared brisket and brought it over to Ahmad’s house.

A handful of close friends from their circle were also present for the judges. Survey Monkey allowed you to vote for various criteria such as taste and tenderness and smoke ring. The medal went to the winning candidate.

It started out as friendly competition among friends, and then it became a group chat. “Chummy Competition”The competition was between friends and became very chummy. “Smoking Hot BBQ Pitmasters”Quickly, the idea became a business, which included a website as well social media accounts and merchandise.

Ahmad, Mawla (a nurse) and Rehan Jaffery (a businessman), aren’t your ordinary pitmasters. These men are Muslim, and their love of barbecue was often complicated.

Facebook contests and recipes often feature alcohol or pork. The meat is also usually not halal, meaning it doesn’t follow Islamic guidelines —similar to those of kosher laws — for how meat should be prepared.

The group chat turned into a conversation in the community, which was called Halal BBQ Pitmasters. The growing Muslim demand for halal barbecue was the main reason that their business grew.

Rehan Jaffrey (left to right), Zahid Ahmed, founders of the Halal BBQ Pitmasters Group (Juan Figueroa / Staff Photographer)
(From left) Neghae Mawla and Rehan Jaffrey prepare a Philly Cheesesteak as the Halal BBQ Pitmasters group experiments with new recipes at Mawla’s home in Parker.(Juan Figueroa / Staff Photographer)

Chat in the Whatsapp group

After a successful competition at Ahmad’s house, the group decided to plan another one for the next year. 11 teams took part in the competition to see who could raise the most chickens at parks. More than 200 people were there. The next year, they hosted another event. “meat on a stake”A themed competition was held at the Islamic Center of Frisco, which attracted more than 1,000 participants.

These contests were judged by volunteer chefs who are professional chefs.

“Some of them were purge cooking, some of them were doing an offset smoker,” said John Cobos, executive chef at Brasão Brazilian Steakhouse who judged the competition. “A lot of them knew what they were doing.”

Ahmad Mawla & Jaffrey made their chat a Whatsapp group chat after the 2018 poultry competition. Muslims can discuss barbecuing and the best places to get halal meats.

Chat entries were fiercely contested at the beginning. This year, Whatsapp only allowed 256 people to join a group.

Whatsapp increased this limit from 512 to 512. Current members of the chat include 335. You can also join spinoff chats in Texas, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Technique conversations are available for smokers of pellets and pizza-makers, as well as sous vide.

“There’s a vegan barbecue group,”Jaffrey was joking.

“No, that’s like the least popular thing,”Ahmad clarified. “I actually do vegetarian stuff, but I don’t tell anybody.”

“Zahid does Meatless Mondays,”Mawla teased.

These groups have a lot of members that chat all day. The members can exchange 200 to 1000 messages each day. Ahmad mentioned that Texas-style beef brisket is quite popular among Texas residents.

While there are different opinions about what exactly makes meat halal — sometimes referred to as zabiha — most scholars say it should meet a few requirements: the animal is cut a certain way and drained of blood, it’s killed with God’s name and a prayer that signifies it was sacrificed for sustenance, and it was treated with respect while living.

Ahmad, Mawla, Jaffrey all do their best not to discuss religious politics during chats. “We’re not a fatwa group,” Mawla said. “How you define halal, we’ll leave up to you. Let’s just enjoy the cooking process of it.”

Shrimp and beef sausage are coated with the Halal BBQ Pitmasters Texas Tandoori Rub.
Use the Halal BBQ Pitmasters Texas Tandoori Sauce on shrimp or beef sausage.(Juan Figueroa / Staff Photographer)

An 13-spice rub

There have been three occasions when Halal BBQ Pitmasters participated in the North Texas EggFestThe competition was won by them, as well as a win in the Kansas City Barbeque Society’s kosher section.

The group formulated their own rubs for the competition, incorporating international flavors like sumac, Kashmiri red chili and bird’s eye chili, atypical of a standard rub, which usually features salt, pepper and garlic.

They created Texas tandoori chickens, and sumac pikanha steaks for their first EggFest 2019. The team was the first of 20.

Their rubs were popular with their rivals. While some chat members suggested selling their rubs on Whatsapp, it was Mawla’s competitors who convinced Mawla that the rubs would be sold.

“Having all your friends’ support was a known,”He stated. “Having 200 to 300 white people in a parking lot in a random competition that have no relation to you say, ‘This is fantastic!’, that’s what got me convinced.”

The Texas Tandoori Rub was tested for a year. They came up with 13 different spices for the final product, which included kashmiri Chili powder, turmeric and natural mesquite. Because of their wide range of spices, which may be hard to find sometimes, the rubs they create are distinctive.

They bought 500 Texas Tandoori Rub bottles. In two days, they sold out. Ahmad, Mawla and Jaffrey don’t make any money off of the rubs and instead donate the revenue to charity or invest it in research and development.

“We’re not chefs. I mean, we’re Instagram chefs,”Ahmad stated. “I think it’s OK to not be a trained chef …  If you’re focused on one small thing, like just trying to make a good tandoori rub, you can do it.”

They have since added other rubs to their inventory, including a Yemeni-Indian-inspired rub and a Peri Peri-Teriyaki rub (Jaffrey grew up in England, where Nando’s South African peri peri flavor enjoys broad popularity).

The group’s branding as halal barbecue is a chance to both encourage Muslims to join and debunk misconceptions at competitions.

Most people’s “experience with Islam or Muslims is just what they see on TV — we’re terrorists or the bad guys,”Ahmad stated. “And I think this shows that we’re multi-dimensional just like everybody else. And we like good food, and we’re more alike with them than we are different.”

Discover more information about Halal Barbecue Pitmasters

The Halal BBQ Pitmasters group experiments with new recipes on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, at...
The Halal BBQ Pitmasters group experiments with new recipes on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, at Neghae Mawla’s home in Parker, TX.(Juan Figueroa / Staff Photographer)

The rise of Halal BBQ Pitmasters of North Texas from a single brisket into a flourishing business

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