Fixings for a Turkish Meal

Turgay Polat presides over meat that is halal and rows of Turkish products.
Turgay Polat presides over meat that is halal and rows of Turkish products. (By Linda Davidson -- The Washington Post)
Wednesday, December 14, 2005

It's best to start a visit to Amity Halal Meat & Grocery at the back of the store, in front of the sparkling meat cases. Here customers order thin, boneless "beefsteak" from the rib-eye ($5.95 per pound) or single-boned lamb chops called pirzola ($9.99 per pound), both great for grilling, or whole, naturally raised chickens ($1.49 per pound). The shop's expert butchers hand-cut and package it all, even sprinkling the meat with oregano for an authentic Mediterranean touch.

"All our meat is halal," says owner Turgay Polat, referring to the ritual slaughter required by Islamic law, a process similar to kosher slaughter. Beef, lamb and chicken are delivered several times a week from a farm in Pennsylvania. "We never use frozen meat."

Next to the meat, deli cases offer creamy feta cheese from full-fat sheep's milk ($4.49 per pound), vats brimming with green and black olives ($3.97 per pound), rings of the spicy beef sausage soudjouk ($4.49 per half-pound) and sliced beef pastirma ($12.99 per pound), a cold cut similar to pastrami. In the freezer case, frozen stacks of lahmajun ($12.99 per dozen), a flatbread topped with chopped meat and peppers, are ready to pop in the oven for quick snacks.

The store's wide tiled aisles and dark-wood shelving have ample room for the more than 2,000 items Polat stocks. Shopper Sennur Fahrali of Silver Spring says she goes "through each section looking at everything," such as imported Turkish pastas (99 cents per 500 grams, or a little over a pound), tomato paste and red pepper paste ($2.49 per 24-ounce jar), and short-grained baldo rice ($3.99 per kilogram, or 2.2 pounds), prized for its texture in stuffing and pilaf.

Near the checkout are all the extras needed for a traditional Turkish meal, including boxes of pistachio, walnut and rose water-flavored Turkish delight ($3.99 to $5.49), the caydanlik , a two-tiered Turkish teapot ($23.99 to $36.95), and decorative items featuring brilliant blue mavi bonjuk good-luck beads ($2.99 and up).

Amity Halal Meat & Grocery, 10372 Lee Hwy., Fairfax; 703-591-2900, Open Sunday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

-- Renee Brooks Catacalos

Freelance writer Renee Brooks Catacalos of University Park lived in Turkey while in the Foreign Service.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company