Sacks of basmati rice greet you as you enter Foodland Halal Butcher Shop and Bazaar, a South Asian grocery store in North Cambridge. The aroma of spices and teas is in the air. Fresh vegetables frame the rice with 8-ball-size purple Indian eggplants, methi leaves, and bumpy bitter melons. Dried legumes, colorful lentils, chickpeas, golden turmeric, and cumin take up several
aisles. Halal foods are stacked in two freezers. Homemade samosas, the Indian turnovers, share counter space with pita rounds, long Afghani nan, and plump dates from Tunisia.
Descend the stairs to the halal butcher shop, where a walk-in fridge holds whole goats, slaughtered in Athol, according to Islamic law. “We go through 70 goats a week and a combined 4,000 pounds of goat [from $5.99 for 1 pound] and lamb,” says owner Jamal Uddin, a native of Bangladesh. Foodland’s other branch in Burlington is tucked into a small strip mall and has an even larger selection of frozen halal meats. In Cambridge, Pakistani customer Mohammed Afzal guides us around the store to gather ingredients for goat curry. This is much more than shopping for groceries. Foodland Halal Butcher Shop and Bazaar, 2234 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-349-0009; 120 Cambridge St., Unit 9A, Burlington, 781-229-0108. DEBRA SAMUELS