Dabbawalas (or tiffin wallahs) are ubiquitous in Mumbai — the deliverymen transport lunches from a monthly subscriber’s residence, or from a caterer, to his office, and then cart the empty tiffins (or lunch boxes) back where they came from. Since the practice hasn’t really caught on here, we were surprised to stumble upon Tiffin New York.
Tiffin is not a restaurant, and has no relation to Tiffin Wallah of Curry Hill — rather it’s a company that claims to be “New York’s first professional Indian-meal delivery service.” Via Tiffin’s website, Manhattan and Queens residents can preorder lunch and/or dinner for a particular day, or for multiple days throughout the week. The fixed meals consist of vegetarian ($8.95) or non-vegetarian ($9.95) mains that change daily, accompanied by 8 oz. reheatable “tiffins” each holding two rotis, dal, pickles, and the three curries of the day. (If you order online instead of using their delivery number, 718-606-1008, dessert is also included.) You can also choose from a host of à la carte add-ons such as naan, various kababs, chole poori, etc. Residents of Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and even some parts of New Jersey and Long Island also have the option of ordering a week’s worth of food in bulk.
We have yet to try it for ourselves, but Tiffin assures that its food is “not restaurant fare,” meaning it’s free of trans fats and ghee, is light on oils, uses fresh ingredients, and consists of dishes typical of Indian homes (though, truth be told, there are plenty of dishes on this week’s menu that are no strangers to East 6th Street.) To be sure, there are downsides to the service: You have to get your order in by 5 p.m. the previous day, the minimum is $15 (which means you basically have to order at least two meals), and, according to the website, your lunch might show up anytime between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. (though a customer service rep told us the window was more like noon and 1 p.m.) But we love the fact that you can preorder a week’s worth of food and get it sent to you without having to lift up the phone every day. Now if only other restaurants would get with this program, we’d never forget to eat lunch again.