Tawa Cafe in Abu Dhabi’s Al Muneera Plaza is an intriguing new spot that looks bright, airy, charming — and 100 per cent gluten-free.
News that it's finally open this week — announced via Instagram — will be a welcome addition for many in the capital, whether they have coeliac disease, allergies/intolerances involving the ubiquitous protein, which is found in wheat, rye, barley and oats, or just like to hang out in the latest new beachside spot. (New Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs, Noura Al Kaabi, has already been by.)
Tawa’s Instagram features enticing photos of the interior — there is also an outdoor space — as well as baked offerings, including burgers, pizza, breads, sweets. There is also an eye-catching shot of what the company’s social media authors are claiming is a first for “the universe”, a gluten-free version of the traditional Emirati sweet legaymat. Also known as “the doughnuts of the Gulf”, these sweet, fried dumplings drenched in syrup and have been compared to Indian gulgula. (They are also spelt a variety of ways, including legimat, ligamat and luqaimat).
We hear there is also a full breakfast menu including an outstanding French toast. And that the owner, Reem Al Shemari, has combined her love of Instagram and shoes with a fun photo-op: a gorgeous sign reading “no gluten beyond this point” sign on the ground outside the entrance.
Although Dubai got its first gluten-free bakery in 2012 and has a variety of options four years later, the capital has not been so lucky. Although there are smatterings around Abu Dhabi — including gluten-free pasta on request at Shakespeare & Co and pizza and pasta on offer at Andiamo, at the nearby Al Zeina — last year marked a sea change with the opening of Emirati mom Moza Al Mazrouei's Firin Bakery, also offering 100 per cent gluten-free baked goods.
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This blog has been updated with new information.