By Rosalie Drago
It must be delivery day at Balady Halal Foods and, for a market with such a grand variety and generous stock of items, this is quite a task. The Balady brothers — Essa, Mosa, Ibraheam and Mohamed Masoud — are feverishly working to get their products inside. Carts stacked with sacks of grains are briskly maneuvered through the aisles while more people inside work to make room for the new items; all the while, another crew stands outside, unloading palettes of even more morsels to come.
Balady Halal Foods offers a wide variety of imported, as well as domestic, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern products. It has, among other items, a wide range of olives, cheeses, fresh bread, spices, sweets, grains, olive oils, specialty oils, housewares, ready-to-eat hummus, ready mix and frozen falafel, frozen vegetables, Halal fresh meats; including lamb, beef, chicken, veal, a full line of Halal cold cuts, fresh ground coffee and flavorings — oh, and it also offers Western Union services. Besides the sheer variety of quality imported items, the first thing noticed is that every item is available in family size.
The market carries a variety of grains, including couscous al belboula (barley couscous) and smeeda (semolina flour). Nearby stands an olive station with a variety of olives as well as pastes, including a lovely and lively hot pepper paste. Steps away you can find everything pickled. Floating in gigantic jars and waiting to be added to your next delicious meal are pickles, of course, but also beets, parsnips, eggplant, lupini beans and many more vegetables. The spice section is a delightful mix of rich aromas. You can find a unique blend of authentic flavors for a wide variety of recipes; for instance, some terrific gourmet recipes call for fenugreek (Hilba in the Middle East). It can found here at Balady and it has some great healing properties, too.
The Balady brothers follow in their father’s footsteps. Mahmoud Masoud began in the supermarket business in 1979, opening one of the first C-Town supermarkets in Brooklyn. After 30 years in the American grocery business, he and his four sons decided to enter the Middle Eastern/Mediterranean grocery business. The family brings all of its industry knowledge to this local market — years of experience in customer satisfaction, stocking and weekly specials.
The specials make this store, well, special. It makes good food accessible to all people. Essa explains, “Our goal was to revolutionize and stimulate the market by establishing our premier store location as the place to shop for the cheapest prices with the freshness of our products and a clean shopping experience alongside optimal customer service.”
“Balady” is an Arabic word meaning “endemic (uniquely linked) to an area.” The brothers were born, raised and currently live in Bay Ridge.
“We are proud to be a part of this community and cater to their ever growing needs of fresh Halal meats and groceries,” Essa says. “Bay Ridge has become the center of Middle Easterners in Brooklyn looking to enjoy shopping, eating and holding religious services. It’s my hometown (Balady) outside of the Middle East.”
Did I mention that Balady features fresh breads, also? My personal favorite is the sweet date bread (called Tirsa in Arabic). You can’t miss it — it’s on the counter on the way out. Balady Foods is located at 7128 Fifth Ave. You can reach the market at (718) 567-2252, or by e-mailing email@example.com