Author: Mersa Saatchi, Persian Walk’s Co-founder
Gluten and Lactose-free food in Iran
As a person who suffers from gluten intolerance, I deeply understand how it could be frustrating to think about the food and snacks during your trip, especially if you are a foodie and not familiar with the language of the destination.
Unfortunately, the concept of gluten is not well-known in Iran; hence I as a person who works in the tourism industry try to write you a handy guide to assist you with handling this issue on your awesome trip to Iran.
Due to the unawareness of people about this issue, you can download the celiac travel card in Farsi here; in fact, it is for lactose and gluten intolerance.
The good news is that Persian cuisine is based on rice and you have lots of options. Although everyone recognizes Kebab as Persian cuisine and Kebab is a national dish, but the diversity of food in Iran is so broad.
Here is the list of Iranian foods with information about Gluten and Lactose:
- Kebabs: In the Koobideh version, wheat flour is used, and the safest Kebabs to eat are Barg, Chenjeh, Shishlik, Bakhtiari, and Jujeh kebab.
- All stews (Khoresht) are safe to eat. (Exception: Khoresht Mast for lactose intolerance (Isfahan))
- All dishes having the name of polo at the end (like Adas Polo, & Lubia polo) are safe to eat.
- Aash and soup: It is tricky to eat them unless you are 100% sure there is no wheat inside or it is homemade, so I would generally abstain from them.
- Halim (super delicious food, but sorry it is pure wheat and meat).
- Shole Zard (rice-based pudding is safe, even for lactose or whey intolerance).
- Ferni (rice-based pudding, but NOT suitable for lactose and whey intolerance).
- All sweets and pastries are contaminated by wheat, except (Rehsteh Khoshhkar in Gilan province), Shirini Berenji (Rice sweet), and Shirini Nargili(coconut sweet).
- Ice noodles (Fallodeh) are made of starch and are safe to eat.
- Non-alcoholic beer (Delester): it is a malt-based drink.
- Any food named Kashk (drained yogurt) is NOT suitable for lactose or whey intolerance.
For lactose and whey intolerance travelers, I should tell you that you rarely find any cafe in Iran that serves coffee with soy or non-dairy milk. However, two special local brands (Bekrsoy & Mandasoy) produce soy products in Iran that can be found in selected supermarkets.
The important question is how to handle bread in Iran??
Generally talking, traditional bread is a big NO-NO for you, BUT, there are two ways to have gluten-free bread in Tehran:
One Iranian food factory called Kalleh produces Gluten-free products (such as toast, muffins, cakes, and pizza), which are accessible in big supermarkets. Secondly, the only branch of Sahar Bakery in Tehran (located in front of Shahid Sadr metro station on the Red line) is the only bakery in town baking fresh gluten bread and pastries. But you should be there before 10 am; otherwise, you would face empty shelves.
As co-founder of Persian Walk dealing with gluten intolerance in my daily life, we decided to offer a special service for travelers, who need assistance with providing gluten-free bread in Tehran.
Just contact us and we provide the bread for you as soon as possible.
Finally, in our food and spice tour, we are always concerned about people dealing with food allergies and intolerance. Joining our evening walking tour can help you know how to handle this issue on your trip to Iran as well.