AskDefine | Define tiffin

Dictionary Definition

tiffin n : a midday meal [syn: lunch, luncheon, dejeuner]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

Anglo-Indian

Noun

  1. A light midday meal or snack; luncheon

Extensive Definition

In South India, especially in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, and in Nepal, the term Tiffin is generally used to mean an in-between-meals snack. Most road-side restaurants in Tamil Nadu will have a board displaying 'Tiffin Ready'. It is customary to be offered a 'Tiffin' as a courtesy when you visit an Andhra or Tamil residence. The word is basically a part of Indian English and hence not very much in use outside the country. Outside South India, like Mumbai, the word is mostly used for light lunches prepared for working Indian men by their wives after they have left for work, and forwarded to them by Dabbawalas who use a complex system to get thousands of tiffin-boxes to their destinations. The lunches are packed in stainless steel or tin boxes with carry handles, also sometimes called tiffins or tiffin-boxes. A common approach is to put rice in one box, dal in another and yet other items in the third or fourth. The other items could be breads, such as naan, vegetable curry and finally a sweet. This system delivers thousands of meals a day and does not use any documents as many Dabbawalas are illiterate. It has been claimed that the tiffin delivery system of Mumbai is so efficient that there is only one mistake for every million deliverieshttp://www.sixsigmainstitute.com/news/sixsigma/2005/11/mumbais-amazing-dabbawalas.html. Another modern usage of the word also applies to lunches that may be packed by parents for children attending school, to provide a lunch during the school day if the student eats lunch at school.
In some former British colonies, the stacked porcelain or metal round trays with handles are called tiffin carriers (similar to the dabba transported by a Dabbawala / Tiffin Wallah), and small-scale caterers use them for delivering meals to individual homes.

See also

tiffin in Macedonian: Тифин
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