Restaurants

EATING OUT REQUIRES CONSTANT VIGILANCE

In India not much is known about Celiac disease unlike the West where there is more awareness about the condition. That’s why you need to be eternally vigilant while dining out. Here’s what to do:

SELECTING A RESTAURANT

  • Try and find a restaurant that serves gluten-free food (tip: Google ‘gluten-free restaurant’). Some restaurants are certified and their staff has undergone a gluten-free training program. In India however these restaurants may be quite rare.
  • The best places to eat out if you are a Celiac are Indian, Japanese and Continental restaurants and coffee shops. Steer clear of places that serve junk food like hamburgers or pizzas and Chinese or Thai restaurants. Soya sauce is known to contain gluten.
  • Before you visit the restaurant, see if you can get a copy of their menu online. Study the menu to see what might be some good options to order. Phone the manager and enquire whether they can provide a gluten-free meal. Are the servers and cooks equipped to understand and handle your order?
  • At the restaurant, speak with the manager again about your menu choices and request him or her to have your order cooked separately in utensils that are uncontaminated with gluten.
  • Speak to the wait staff and ensure they understand your condition. Ask them to convey the information to the chef so they can cook your dishes in a suitable manner using the necessary precautions.

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHILE ORDERING AT RESTAURANTS

  • Avoid anything with sauce, ketchup and vinegar - there is probably hidden gluten in them.
  • Do not order dishes that have sauces as all sauces contain thickeners made with flour.
  • Order dishes that are naturally gluten free, for example, grilled fish or chicken, vegetables and jacket potatoes or a pulao.
  • Avoid curries with hing (asafoetida) like Sambar. The hing has wheat as an anti-caking agent.
  • South Indian dishes like dosas, appams and idlis are good and are usually made of a combination of rice and urad dal but avoid Rava dosas or idlis. These contain semolina.
  • Avoid ordering anything with Suji (sooji) or rava (rawa) -- This is semolina (wheat) and can be used in the batter for frying fish or cutlets. Dishes like Upma also contain Rava.
  • Examine desserts - Kheer might contain Sevian (vermicelli).
  • Ensure Koftas (Indian meatballs) do not contain breadcrumbs or any other gluten-containing material.
  • Order salads without dressing to be on the safe side.
  • Be careful of soups that are labeled cream of anything. The thickening agent probably has flour. Clear soup is a better bet.