My father is a Vegetarian and a frequent traveler.

Due to this it sometimes becomes difficult for him to get a well-balanced diet on flights and airports. Since he travels quite often, he eats anything vegetarian he can find but prefers home cooked food.

As an Indian, home cooked food can sometimes contain curry in the form of Pulses or Lentils or something (adequate source of protein). He prefers this kind of food while waiting on airports during the layover.

Currently he only carries Apples or some other fruit to help him during the flight. Is it possible for him to carry something additional to that in his carry-on as well?

For instance, Curry or other semi-solid food, Egg (he eats egg due to health constraints) or Boiled bottle gourd or anything Semi-solid along with some small quantity of juice.

  • He can ask for vegetarian meal when he flies. Most international airline I flew with offer special meals if request beforehand.
    – vasin1987
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 6:46
  • @vasin1987 That's basically what he does, this question was in motivation for a better solution. :) Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 5:25
  • This is rather late, but I've brought leftover curry on a plane before. TSA didn't even notice. Might be worth it just to bring it in an inconspicuous disposable container and have a plan B Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 20:43

3 Answers 3


In short, no, he can't realistically bring them on board: under TSA rules, semi-solid foods are considered "gels" and thus fall under the "liquids, aerosols and gels" restriction of 3 bottles x 100 ml max, and these rules are applied worldwide on international flights.

You could still probably bring a few tiny containers of curry and something dry to eat them with (chapattis, naan, rice etc), but you'd be lucky to get a single meal out of that. "Pies and cakes" are apparently allowed though, so samosas and the like might be OK?

TSA has a handy web app that lets you search for specific items, but Indian food isn't really covered. Also, in general, security tends to err on the side of "ban all of the things". I've had a ~120ml tin of canned sprats (small fish) confiscated, the apparent logic being that because it's over 100ml and contains some liquid (oil), it could be used to make a taste explosion or something.

Update: Well, that's the theory. In practice, I just carried some premade cheese fondue mix (read: "gel") through at least 4 security checkpoints that were checking for liquids, and nobody ever noticed. So I'd go with @Azor-Ahai's suggestion: bring it on board, and have a Plan B if you do get busted.

  • That is SO disappointing. Is it OK if the food is dry but is home-cooked i.e not packaged? Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 2:49
  • Probably. See this site for further guidance: apps.tsa.dhs.gov/mytsa/cib_home.aspx Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 2:54
  • This is great. Can you add this link to the answer above as well. I feel it completes the query completely! Thanks a ton! Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 2:58
  • 3
    Also depending where you're going you might have to make sure you do eat home-cooked food (or leave it in the trash) because of food import restrictions. No doubt your father already knows about this if he typically carries fruit! Anything home-cooked is by definition not raw fruit/vegetables, but is at risk of being judged "unsure, keep it out to be safe". Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 11:53
  • Not all fruits are allowed either (Duriyan for example).
    – AKS
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 12:03

Yes, he probably can - with leeway for the fact sometimes some guards may refuse (the probably is 'more yesses than noes', not 'never no'). Higher chances of getting through happen with food leaning towards solid, visible, identifiable.

My parents travel a lot, and often carry homemade food for the same reasons (health, preference, vegetarian). They have traveled with Indian foods - including yogurt rice, which is on the liquid-ish end of the scale and had even that go through. If it's obviously set up as a meal (lunch-bag, plastic cutlery, napkins) that will help a bit, as snacks/food are usually allowed (yeah, not drinks - they're separate), and the more identifiable the stuff in it is, the more likely it will be let pass - for example, a curry or something with visible vegetable chunks in sauce, over rice is more likely to pass through than an opaque, blended liquidy food. The thing about liquids, gels, etc is that most of the security people can't know what they are without testing, so refuse them all, but visible food where they can go, that's carrots, and those're potatoes in a bit of sauce over rice - more likely to get mentally filed under 'food' not 'liquidy-gel-whatsit'. A little bottle of yogurt or buttermilk falls under liquids, and is easier to reject - the same way a salad (already added dressing) goes through, but a little bottle of dressing (for accompanying salad) does not, a pie goes through, but a jar of filling does not.

Take reasonably sized portions, and pack individual portions per person. The bigger containers they see, the more likely they are to question it. Don't hide it, that will make you look shifty. I would suggest transparent containers so it can be identified as food. Have the rice in the same container, it will make the contents seem drier and less liquid-like (it may or may not help to leave it as an unmixed layer, being able to identify the food makes it more likely to go through). You might plan for drier curries or dhals [err, lentils], even if you prefer the moister ones usually, because they're more likely to go through.

Be prepared to let it go if someone does object, and/or explain the dietary restrictions and health reasons if someone does ask. The worst that probably happens is you have to throw it out.


This happened in Chicago O'Hare for domestic travel. We had MTR ready to eat Dal makhni in Carry on baggage. The TSA agent asked us to remove it and suggested that since these are considered gel he can't let these pass but he suggested that next time we should try freezing it and if we are sure that it won't thaw by the time we are at security it will go through.

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