Today, the popularity of South Indian food culture has broken all barriers and made its way to the global platform with all its glory. The world is now well aware of the outstanding flavours of dosas, chutneys, sambar, stew, and several other delicacies, and relishes them to the fullest. But to your surprise, there are still some traditions that have remained exclusive to the southern regions of India - one such tradition being the 'tiffin' culture. What comes to mind when we say 'tiffin'? For most of us, it is the meal we carry to school or the office, specifically for lunch. In other words, a tiffin is a meal packed and carried in a tiffin box. But for people in South India, tiffin stands for the light meal you eat to satiate those mid-meal hunger pangs.
About South Indian Tiffin: History And Origin Of This Unique Food Tradition:
Visit any state in the southern part of India, and you will find at least one tiffin room in every locality, serving some delicious snacks and drinks, including coffee, buttermilk, and juices. You would find hundreds of people thronging these places to enjoy their evening coffee and some quick meals. But did you know that this culture finds its roots in Anglo-Indian cuisine? You heard us right. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word tiffin is derived from an English colloquial term 'tiffing', meaning eating or drinking out of mealtime. Later, tiffin became an established term among the Anglo-Indians to describe light snacks between lunch and dinner. Eventually, the Southern region adopted the term and made it their own to define their snack times, including dosas, vadas, and idlis.
Also Read: Why South Indians Eat On Banana Leaves
What Are The Most Popular Food Items In A Tiffin Meal:
A quintessential tiffin includes dosas, vadas, idli, different types of bhaat, and beverages, including filter coffee, buttermilk, badam milk, fruit juice, and more. What sets tiffin rooms apart from other eateries in South India is the fact that they usually don't serve sambar along with the dishes. These meals are accompanied by delicious chutneys and often podi masala on the sides. Here, we bring you some popular tiffin options that you will find in every tiffin room across South India. Don't worry, this list goes beyond idli, dosa, and vada. Take a look.
Here Are 5 Popular Tiffin Options In South India:
1. Mysore Bajji:
Also called goli bajji, this is a delicious snack made with rice flour, maida, hing, baking soda, curry leaves, spices, and more. A bajji comes in bite-sized pieces and is fluffy and soft, with a crispy outer coating. Click here for the recipe.
2. Mirchi Bajji:
Similar to the North Indian mirchi vada, this is a crispy delicacy made by deep-frying besan-coated chillies. You need to prepare a tangy-spicy stuffing for the chillies and fill them properly. Then dip the chillies in besan batter and fry until crispy and golden. Pair it with coconut and tomato chutney and enjoy. Click here for the recipe.
To put it simply, this is a dish people make with excess idli and dosa batter. It is a crispy, bite-sized, pagoda-like snack, usually paired with evening tea. You just need to mix onion, ginger, chilli, etc. with the idli-dosa batter and fry pakodas out of it. That's it. Click here for the recipe.
4. Bisi Bele Bhath:
A South Indian-style porridge, this dish includes everything tasty and healthy. Besides, it is fulfilling yet light on the stomach. It is usually prepared by mixing dal, rice, spices, veggies, and oodles of ghee. However, some people replace rice with dalia to make it healthier. Find the classic bisi bele bhat recipe here.
5. Badam Milk:
Beverages also have a fixed spot in a tiffin room. Besides filter coffee, another drink that wins hearts is badam milk. It is usually prepared by mixing almonds, cardamom, milk, and jaggery. But you can customize the flavours as per your choice. Here's a badam milk recipe for you.
We suggest trying out a tiffin room on your next visit to Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, or any South Indian city. Meanwhile, prepare the above dishes at home and experience the flavours for yourself.
About Somdatta SahaExplorer- this is what Somdatta likes to call herself. Be it in terms of food, people or places, all she craves for is to know the unknown. A simple aglio olio pasta or daal-chawal and a good movie can make her day.