Halal Iranian Restaurant in Nova Scotia

A financial tale of two immigrants

Iranian: N.S. should offer interest-free loans to immigrants

It is a simple word, and most Muslims will forgive Nova Scotians who are unaware of its implications.

The word is halal — meat prepared in accordance with Muslim dietary law.

If you are a member of the province’s growing Muslim population, the
addition of halal cuisine to the menu at China Town Restaurant, one of
Bedford’s landmark eateries, is a significant development indeed.

“The product comes from special suppliers and the dishes are cooked
very, very slowly,” is how Mohammad Reza-Akbari Jor describes the
exotic scents coming from the waterfront location he purchased about 15
months ago.

Mr. Jor, an Iranian entrepreneur, said his immigration experience
has been positive, adding he is in a good position to offer the
province some pointers if it wants to promote immigration.

If Nova Scotia was serious about increasing immigration it would
offer interest-free loans to people from other countries who qualified
under the nominee program and who want to come here and open a
business, he said.

“It is very difficult for newcomers to Canada to obtain credit from financial institutions to allow their businesses to grow.”

Despite difficulties obtaining financing, Mr. Jor has added a long
list of specially prepared Iranian dishes to a new component of China
Town’s business called Zafaran Palace Persian Cuisine.

Mr. Jor, who is also an international-level competitive kick-boxer
and coach, has lots of ideas for business growth and increasing
immigration to Nova Scotia, which he adores for its wide-open spaces,
excellent universities (for his children) and welcoming people.

There is a festive atmosphere at Zafaran Palace on the last Saturday
of each month, with ethnic music and lots of special dishes.

Members of the Halifax area’s growing ethnic population converge on
the Bedford location to enjoy some first-class halal cooking for these
events, and Mr. Jor is glad to see that each month more native Nova
Scotians are joining in on the fun.

“We want people of all cult-ures to come and enjoy the fun and the
music,” said the 42-year-old, whose native tongue is Farsi but whose
English is improving all the time.

He said he loves to entertain his new Nova Scotia friends and teach them about his culture and its cooking.

Zafaran is how Iranians in Canada spell and pronounce saffron, one
of the world’s most exotic and expensive spices, and the colours and
scents of saffron-enhanced dishes make a visit to the Bedford
waterfront eatery a must for fans of ethnic dining.

Mr. Jor came to Canada and set up shop in Bedford through the Nova
Scotia immigrant nominee program, which has been awash in controversy
recently over allegations of mishandling of fees paid by participants.

But little has been heard from the nominees themselves, and Mr. Jor said he believes that is a problem.

“The nominee program is very good for Nova Scotia. It is important
it continue,” he said, after praising Nova Scotia and its efforts to
attract immigrants.

Mr. Jor and his business could benefit if he receives a government
rebate on the fees he paid to participate in the nominee program.

He is watching developments in the case closely.