Just after I returned from Turkey, I received an e-mail from a reader, Nadine Hassouneh, who was about to travel to Istanbul. As we corresponded, I mentioned that I’d love to hear about the gluten-free dining situation in her hometown. Having no idea where she was based, I was pleasantly surprised to find that she lives in Amman, the capital city of Jordan, a country I have long wanted to visit. Nadine was diagnosed with celiac disease earlier this year, and she has already assembled a list of where to find gluten-free food in the city. She was kind enough to write this up for all of us. Thanks so much for your help, Nadine! (For readers who are thinking of visiting Jordan, check out Lonely Planet, Frommer’s, and the official Jordan Tourism Board site.)
NADINE’S REPORT ON AMMAN, JORDAN
Visiting Jordan? Worried about finding gluten-free products and places to dine? Well… here is what you need to know!
There are several stores in Jordan’s capital city, Amman, where people can find gluten-free products. There is a superstore called Cozmo located in the area of the 7th Circle in Amman. This store is the best regarding GF products. Schar pastas, biscuits, bread and cake mixes and other products are always available there. You can sometimes find Schar’s Pizza Base and White Bread there too, as well as some De Boles pastas.
Another shop that is well-stocked with GF products is Eman’s Diet Shop. This small store is packed with products for different dietary needs (including gluten free, lactose free, fat free, sugar free and others). It is located in Sweifiyyeh, a hectic shopping area in Amman, near the Nike Store. Al Sufara is a bakery that is located in Sweifiyyeh, too. This bakery is really aware of what celiac disease is and how dangerous it would be if cross contamination occurs in the baking process — they are trustworthy. Al Sufara offers gluten-free rice bread, corn bread, biscuits (we call them Kaaek), and confections. In addition, there are some GF traditional sweets.
Regarding dining, below is a list of restaurants where you can eat safely.
- Casper & Gambini’s
A restaurant serving healthy food. Employees there are helpful and are ready to help even if they have to create a dish for you. Located in Abdoun, in the area of Abdoun Mall [address] Mazen Sido Al-Kurdi Street, Abdoun, Amman 11183 [tel] +962 6 5922600 [web] www.casperandgambinis.com [e-mail] firstname.lastname@example.org
- Milano Restaurant
A restaurant located in Shmesani, they serve delicious Italian food. While a celiac cannot enjoy all that they serve, they can have one of the grilled chicken or steak dishes. It is important to give the staff clear explanation regarding the “no sauce, no wheat” issue. [tel] +962 6 5680670
Located opposite to HSBC in the 5th Circle, Whispers serves international dishes. I had Hamour Fillet with sautéed vegetables and it was really good! [tel] +962 6 5921850. (Click here for the Lonely Planet review.)
International cuisine you might say, but mainly Mexican and American. The chef is very helpful and willing to cook dishes that are not on the menu to serve your needs. He even created two sauces to serve my needs! Located in Abdoun – Abdoun Circle (this is the one I tried). There is also a location in Shmesani (behind the Power Hut Gym) and in the Food Hall of the Mecca Mall. (Click here for the Lonely Planet review.)
- Seattle’s Best Coffee & Carna Restaurant
The employees are helpful, but you have to explain every single detail (such as no sauces, no wheat, no cross contamination). However the result will please you at the end. Located in Abdoun opposite to Fitness First gym previously known as Vy.
This restaurant is located near the Prime Ministry. Choices such as grilled fish, grilled chicken and grilled steak (all without the sauces) are good options for celiacs.
Some general dining tips: Grilled chicken — with no sauce — is a safe option along with sautéed vegetables Stay away from French fries because most restaurants use frozen ones that are wheat-coated. Salads are a safe bet most of the time, but be sure to ask what the dressing is made of. To be on the safe side, you can ask the waiter to add a dressing of olive oil and lemon only. Some salads here contain “Burghol,” which is an ingredient derived from wheat — an example is Tabbouleh. Unfortunately you must stay away from traditional sweets because most Arabic sweets are made from wheat.
The easiest way to describe gluten intolerance when you are in Jordan is by relating it (although scientifically incorrect) to an allergy to wheat and its derivatives.
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Editor’s note: I’d love to hear about the gluten-free finds you’ve made in your hometown and in your travels. You can contact me directly at glutenfreeguidebook [at] gmail [dot] com, or leave a comment on the site. I’m also creating a Facebook page to make it easier for readers of the Gluten-Free Guidebook to share information. My heartfelt thanks to all of the thoughtful readers who have already contacted me. I wish everyone all the best — and happy travels — in the new year!