Tiffin carriers or dabbas are a kind of lunch box used widely in India for tiffin meals. From India, they spread to and now are widely used in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore as well. They are known as rantang in Indonesian and mangkuk tingkat (leveled bowls) in Malay. In Arab countries they are called Safartas Arabic سفرطاس meaning travel bowls. They are also used extensively in Hungary, primarily to transport restaurant cheap workday midday meals for consumption at home. The Hungarian word for a tiffin box is éthordó (food carrier). A very similar device is called Henkelmann in Germany. It usually is round or in an oval shape similar to military campaign dishes. The Henkelmann was very popular until the 1960s, but is very rarely used by Germans today.
Normally they come in two or three tiers, although more elaborate versions can have four. The bottom-most tier, being the largest, is the one usually used for rice. Tiffin carriers are opened by unlocking a small catch on either side of the handle. The Hungarian version will typically contain a soup, main course and piece of cake.
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 generally made out of steel and sometimes of aluminium, but enamel and plastic versions have been made by European companies. They can keep food warm for at least two or three hours.
Thai Tiffin box from 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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