History Of Tiffin - What Does The Word 'Tiffin' Mean?
The word “Tiffin” is an Indian English word for a type of meal. It refers to a light tea-time meal or a midday luncheon. The word is derived from “tiffing”, an English colloquial term meaning to take a little drink
The history of tiffins and tiffin services can be traced back to the British kingdom in India. When the British established themselves in India in the late 18th century, they had to adapt their eating habits to accommodate the hot climate. Lunch became a much lighter meal and was called “tiffin”, taken from the slang words “tiff”, a tot of diluted liquor, and “tiffing”, to take a sip of this liquor. From these origins in British India, tiffin has evolved into a fascinating world of its own, involving a whole range of dishes and equipment and suppliers.
In India, food cooked at home with care and love is considered to deliver not only health benefits but also divine contentment. Tiffins (or dabbas) come in all shapes and sizes, but traditionally they are round, with three or four stacking stainless steel compartments firmly sealed with a tight-fitting lid and a side clip to avoid any nasty spillages and a handle for carrying on top. Tiffin culture is now found all over India. Everyone – from women in brightly colored saris working in the fields to giggling families on long train journeys – carries a tiffin to provide a compact, portable, homemade lunch. And with the effects of globalization, tiffin services are ever so popular in the west as well now, especially where the south asian or Indian population lives in great density, such as Vancouver, Surrey, Canada and Toronto areas.
In Mumbai, tiffin waalas use a complex system to deliver thousands of tiffin carriers to their destinations. This lunch delivery service has become popular not only in India but also in other countries with South Asian communities.
Tiffin has evolved from its origins as a British custom of afternoon tea that had been supplanted by the Indian practice of having a light meal at that time. The term tiffin soon became synonymous with a light meal eaten around teatime or even a light, early dinner. Tiffin can be a snack, a packed lunchbox or a savory or even sweet dish. Generally these are vegetarian, with less spice, and served in small portions.
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Tiffin now also refers to home-cooked meals packed for working Indian men by their wives or for schoolchildren by their parents. Even the restaurants serving these snacks in India are called tiffin centers. One of Bangalore’s legendary restaurants, started in 1924, is named Mavalli Tiffin Rooms and is a popular place for tiffin from rava idlis to crisp dosas served with hot filter coffee.
Also Read: How to Pack Nutritious Tiffin For Kids