Halal food highlights CDO's 'Kumbira'

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By Ercel Maandig (PNA)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY -- Organizers of this year's "Kumbira" food showcase highlighted the significance of "halal" cuisine in the Filipino and Southeast Asian culinary landscape.

Cagayan de Oro Hotel and Restaurant Association (Cohara) led Kumbira's opening Wednesday with the unveiling of the Masters’ category, where cooks and chefs vie to prepare dishes that pork-free.

Halal is a general term for the "permissible" way of life in Islam. Halal food follows a strict religious process of cooking and consuming, most notably by not eating pork meat and its derivatives.

Organized by Cohara for 23 years now, Kumbira is one of the major events of the annual Higalaay Festival here.

Cohara president Bong Pelaez said Kumbira Masters’ competition this year is intended for professional chefs in Northern Mindanao, while other food competitions are open for culinary students.

Pelaez also said that the promotion of halal food categories would equip local cooks and chefs for them to be able to compete in the Southeast Asian market.

"We should be ready for our Asian tourists to take Filipino style halal food," Pelaez said.

In his welcome message, Mayor Oscar Moreno praised Cohara for organizing Kumbira for over two decades now, saying local food is a major component of Higalaay Festival.

"It's appreciative in a way that Cohara has the spirit to pursue and to continue in a bigger way year after year and now introducing the foods of our Muslim community," Moreno said.