What is Tiffin?
Updated: Apr 13, 2021
The doctor mentioned tiffin on their very first day of the voyage. Having never heard of the word, I asked Mr Google. Tiffin is an Indian/English word meaning a light meal. It can be the midday luncheon or, in some regions of the Indian subcontinent, a snack taken between meals. The fact Dr Knight wrote that it was served at two-bells, which is 1pm, led me to the fact that's when the first-class cabin were served their mid-day meal.
It wasn't always a light meal, especially during the colder days on board. They sailed through four seasons in their 103-day journey, so their meals varied constantly. Unless you were in the steerage cabin.
The word originated in the British Raj, where the British custom of afternoon tea was superseded by the Indian light meal at that same hour. The English colloquial or slang tiffing (meaning to take a little drink) had by 1867 become domesticated among Anglo-Indians in the north to mean luncheon. Today in South India and in Nepal, Tiffin is mostly a snack between meals.
Packed lunch is what Tiffin is referred to in parts of India, such as Mumbai. It can be delivered by dabbawalas, sometimes known as tiffin wallahs, who get thousands of tiffin-boxes to their destinations using a complex system. The school-going child's lunch box is fondly called a Tiffin box too. It can consist of lentils, rice, curry, vegetables, chapatis or spicy meat. The most popular school lunches or Tiffin today are below.
Tiffin Cooking Tutorial
Footage: Mom-tastic By Shamsheera
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