Guest Post: Gluten-Free in Beirut, Lebanon

A couple of months ago I was very intrigued when I discovered the Gluten-Free Beirut (Sans gluten à Beyrouth) page on Facebook. The Middle East is such a mysterious and alluring place to me. I’ve never been to any parts of the Middle East, but I am intrigued. I know very little about Lebanese cuisine, so I was eager to connect with the author of Gluten-Free Beirut. Here is her guest post about living gluten-free in Beirut, Lebanon. 
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Sanayeh garden in Beirut
Gluten Free in Beirut
Being gluten free in Beirut is both easy and complicated.
Complicated when your kid is invited to a birthday party and EVERYTHING has gluten in it! Frustrating when you walk down the street and all around snacks and patisseries and you know that you can not taste anything from these shops…
On the other hand, many traditional home cooked lebanese meals do not contain gluten: stuffed zuchinis, kafta, vegetable stews…!
Eating out in a lebanese cuisine restaurant is not complicated. For starters, you can order grilled halloumi cheese…
You can bring along your gluten free arabic pita bread (there are a few gf bakeries you can order from in Beirut, as Pate Boulanger) and enjoy chich taouk (marinated chicken), grilled meat, along with hommos, fries and salad.
Tip: ask specifically your waiter not to put bread on top nor below your meat!
When eating in a fish restaurant, check that your fish will not be dipped in flour. Or you can order grilled fish. Same tip: “No fried bread near my fish please!!!”
Saifi, downtown Beirut
Saifi, downtown Beirut
As for other restaurants, quinoa salad is now a common dish! You can even start to see the mention “gluten free” on some menus! Last year we had gluten free pasta in the italian restaurant Tavolina in Mar Mikhael.
As for desserts, some Lebanese puddings are gluten free, like muhallabieh (corn flour, milk and sugar), riz bi halib (with rice, milk and sugar) and moghli (rice flour, sugar, cinamon and spices). Just check that they are prepared according to the original recipe and not from a mix.
At Flor Ice Cream (located in Hamra)  you can enjoy Italian gluten free ice cream with gluten free cornet (Ed. note: This is a cone). Don’t forget to mention that you have celiac, so that the employee takes his precautions by changing his gloves.
Also two lovely ladies offer gluten free catering:
- Ani at Gluten Free Treasures
- Alice at Gluten Free Lebanon
We started our gluten free journey nearly 3 years ago. Since then, we have witnessed a noticeable increase in the offer of gluten free products in the supermarkets (Bou Khalil, Spinneys and Monoprix among others) and organic shops such as New Earth and Olive Tree.
We have hope for future, it can only get better!
You can learn more about Gluten-Free Beirut here:
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Beirut Downtown