Tiffin carriers or dabbas are a kind of lunch box used widely in Asia for tiffin meals. From South Asia they spread to India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, where they are now widely used. They are also used extensively in Hungary, primarily to transport restaurant meals for consumption at home. The Hungarian version typically contains soup, a main course, and piece of cake. A very similar device is called Henkelmann in Germany. It is usually round or oval similar to military mess kits. The Henkelmann was very popular until the 1960s, but is very rarely used by Germans today.
In the Indian city of Mumbai, there is a complex and efficient delivery system that regularly delivers hot lunches packed in dabbas to city office workers from their suburban homes or from a caterer. It uses delivery workers known as dabbawalas.
Tiffin carriers are known as rantang in Indonesian; mangkuk tingkat ('leveled bowls') in Malay; in Thai: (Thai: ปิ่นโต); in Khmer: (Khmer: ចានស្រាក់; 'Chan Srak'. In Arab countries they are called safartas (سفرطاس, from Turkish meaning 'travel bowls'). The Hungarian word for a tiffin box is éthordó ('food carrier').
Design and materials
Normally they come in two or three tiers, although more elaborate versions can have four. The bottom tier, sometimes larger than the others, is the one usually used for rice. Tiffin carriers are opened by unlocking a small catch on either side of the handle. Tiffin carriers are generally made out of steel and sometimes of aluminium, but enamel and plastic versions have been made by European companies.
Thai Tiffin box in Bangladesh.
- Lunch box
- Tiffin Cup, a competition to find the best South Asian restaurant in the United Kingdom
- The Lunchbox (2013 Indian film)
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