Tiffin

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Tiffin is an Indian English word for a light meal generally in the midday (luncheon) in most regions of the peninsular India.[1] When used in place of the word "lunch", it does not necessarily mean a light meal.[2] In Telugu usage tiffin is mostly synonymous with light breakfast in the morning.[3]

History and etymology[edit]

In the British Raj, where the British custom of afternoon tea was supplanted by the local Indian practice of taking a light meal at that hour, it came to be called tiffin.[4] It is derived from English colloquial or slang tiffing meaning to take a little drink, and had by 1867 become naturalised among Anglo-Indians in the north of British India to mean luncheon.[5]

Today[edit]

Two dabbawalas in Mumbai delivering meals packed in tiffin carriers

In South India and in Nepal, tiffin is generally a snack between meals: dosas, idlis, vadas etc.[6] In other parts of India, such as Mumbai, the word mostly refers to a packed lunch of some sort.[7] In Mumbai, it is often forwarded to them by dabbawalas, sometimes known as tiffin wallahs, who use a complex system to get thousands of tiffin-boxes to their destinations. In Mumbai, a school going child's lunch box is fondly called a Tiffin box.[8]

Tiffin often consists of rice, dal, curry, vegetables, chapatis or "spicy meats".[9] In addition, the lunch boxes are themselves called tiffin carriers, tiffin-boxes or just tiffins.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ OED staff 2013, "tiffin, n.".
  2. ^ Murray 2008, p. 88.
  3. ^ Purnachand, G V. "History of Traditional Telugu Food Culture: A new interpretation". Dr. G. V. Purnachand, B.A.M.S. Dr. G V Purnachand, B.A.M.S. Retrieved 28 July 2017. 
  4. ^ Quinion 2006, Tiffin.
  5. ^ OED staff 2013, "tiffin, n."cites H. Wedgwood (1862) "Tiffin, now naturalised among Anglo-Indians in the sense of luncheon, is the North country tiffing (properly sipping)". See also Wedgwood 1872, p. 682.
  6. ^ Hughes, Mookherjee & Delacy 2001, p. 25.
  7. ^ Harding 2002.
  8. ^ Thakker 2005.
  9. ^ Murray 2008, pp. 85–108.

References[edit]