The tiffin box

the tiffin box

One of the things that I wanted to see in action when we moved here was the tiffin. I had learned of them a number of years ago through a news clip on a tiffin service that was being offered in Toronto. This company provided hot lunches, for delivery or pick-up, and it came neatly packaged in a multi-layered metal container like the one pictured above. It was my understanding that the word “tiffin” referred to the container, and I really wanted to see if they are actually used in India.

It became apparent to me, just days into our stay in India that not only are tiffins used, they are EVERYWHERE. We mostly see workers carrying them, but there are also a number of school children who carry them to school, as well as caterers and food cart vendors (or wallas) who use gigantic ones. Most have two, three, or four uniform containers that seal as they stack on top of each other. They are held together by a latch on each side, and seem to be liquid tight. Our driver, Subbu, even has an insulated sleeve for his, so that he can keep his meal either hot or cold.

I have now learned that the meal itself (usually lunch) is actually the tiffin, and the stacked container is the tiffin box. Traditionally, these tiffins consist of a dal, a curry, some rice or bread (naan, roti, paratha…) and possibly a raita or a dessert. Some cities in India, like Mumbai, even have a vast network of tiffin wallas, who deliver hot lunches from home to the men who are at work. I am not sure if Bangalore has such a network, but I am sure that Willy would love to have a hot lunch from home delivered to his desk.

I have fallen in love with the idea of the tiffin box, and know that I will be bringing one home to Canada, so that I can bring my own tiffin to work with me. Early on in Tamara and Chris’ recent visit, Tamara and I were talking about them, and she mentioned that she might like to have one if we could find one that was reasonably priced and not too big or small. This past Tuesday was their last day in Bangalore, so I offered to pick one up for her if I could find one while out shopping. The lils and I were pleased to find that our grocery store had a good selection, and we picked one up. Actually, we picked three up, as Woo and Goose decided that they MUST have them as well.

Our new tiffin boxes
They can’t wait to bring their lunches and snacks to school in their new tiffin boxes. In the meantime, they demand that their meals be served in them at home!

Category: India | Tags: , , , | 7 comments

  • Cindy W says:

    What a fantastic idea! Are they very expensive?

  • Sara says:

    You know how I love to organize….these are right up my alley :)

  • Nicole says:

    “Tiffin” is the term for a type of food ~ essentially a light snack or small meal usually not containing rice :) Many restaurants will offer tiffin items (dosa, idly, vada etc); used in a sentence like “Lets eat some tiffin!” ;) I don’t use it in sentences often because tiffin and booze just don’t mix…hahahaha…

  • Tamara says:

    I am really looking forward to using my tiffin to bring my lunches and snacks to work. I’ll make sure to write a blog post on my adventures in using it.

  • BeachMama says:

    I love those!!! I thought that Lee Valley sold them, I always thought they looked awesome for lunch but wondered how I would keep my cold cold and my hot hot… I am picky that way ;)

  • Roo says:

    Lee Valley version http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?p=43331&cat=1,43326,43330

    Not quite as cool looking as the one at the top of the post, but local.


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