A HANDY GUIDE TO TIFFIN SERVICES IN MUMBAI
One of the most iconic images of the city is of the dabbawalas carrying bags of steel tiffins filled with a piping hot lunch to feed hungry people across the city. Chances are that every tiffin is different in terms of quantity, quality, and menu. These days, you can find tiffins catering to every whim: ghar ka khana, regional, breakfast items, healthy and diet-conscious meals, modern cooking, and so on.
So, how do you choose from this variety? Joanna Lobo did a trial of some of them, exploring a variety of lunch options. Here’s her verdict.
Healthy Meals: Calorie Care
Calorie Care caters to different requirements, such as weight loss, muscle gain, and even recovering TB patients.
The food comes inside a box, packed in plastic containers* with bio-degradable cutlery, salt sachets, and the menu. It’s a complete meal that includes a soup, salad, dal, rice, and curry. My one-day lunch trial had small portions of a chunky and filling creamy soup, a lightly seasoned methi dal, Parsi brown rice (a pulao with onions) and a Parsi veg stew – slightly sweet and filled with chunky of carrots and potatoes. There was a handy little note about the nutritional content of the tiffin: mine had 540 calories, 13gm fat, 4gm fibre, and 15gm protein.
You can choose between low, medium, and high calorie meals, depending on your requirements. They also try to customise the meal; on request, the food they sent was low on spice.
Call 022 2412 2100 or book online. Cost starts at Rs. 179 (breakfast), Rs. 215 (lunch) and Rs. 225 (dinner); trial meals cannot be ordered online.
Coastal Treats: Round the Plate
Round the Plate is a small operation in Khar that serves Goan and Malvani food (with a heavy emphasis on the latter). I chose the non-vegetarian (fish or chicken options) tiffin. The trial tiffin had dal, rice, fluffy rotis, and two chicken dishes. The Malvani curry was fiery red and coconut heavy, and the chicken fry was probably the best I’ve tasted, coated in masala, with a few charred bits, and cooked just right. The dal was satisfactory, mushy, and without any tadka. They also have a vegetarian tiffin option.
There’s also a limited menu of fried fish and curries (orders to be placed 48 hours in advance), biryani, and chicken preparations. This was the only meal that came in a steel tiffin.
Call 84337 63437. Cost ranges from Rs. 120 (veg, full) to Rs. 150 (non-veg, full); delivery in Bandra, Khar, Santacruz, Vile Parle, VT.
Vegan Fare: Vegan Bites
As the name would suggest, Vegan Bites’s food has no dairy or meat, is plant-based, and is oil-free.
My meal consisted of coleslaw salad, jacket potatoes, masoor pulao, vegetable and tomato curry, masala chaas, and bottle gourd soup. The masoor pulao was delicious (although the dal and rice were served separately); the jacket potatoes were cut in half and stuffed with a cashew-cheese corn mix; and the coleslaw salad was crunchy and lacked dressing. Vegan Bites are the only tiffin I received that serve a drink.
The food is a mix of Indian and world cuisine and is extremely filling. Their quantities are generous – it’s like having a thali.
Call 76665 86430 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Cost is Rs. 396 (one-day trial) and Rs. 3360 (10-day trial); delivery is extra, and there’s a security deposit of Rs 650. Delivery is across the city.
Good VFM: Spice Box
The most recommendations I received were for Spice Box’s tiffin. It has just two meal plans, making ordering an easy process. The Non-Veg Standard Meal offers rice, rotis, one chicken or egg dish, dal, and a dessert or salad. The trial tiffin, like most others, was packed in plastic containers, with cutlery and a little sachet of pickle. It being a Friday (they have “special items” on the day), there was chicken biryani, raita, and sheera. The flavours reminded me more of restaurant food than ghar ka khana.
The food is, and has always been, spicy, and it’s not very healthy. But it is tasty and affordable.
Visit the website to order; monthly meal plans start at Rs. 85 (veg, mini) and go up to Rs. 105 (non-veg, standard), per meal. They offer a one-day trial.
The Gourmet Option: Savor
Savor’s gourmet lunch subscription promises a culinary exploration of different cuisines – Thai, Indonesian, French, German, Spanish, Italian, etc. They take dietary preferences into consideration as well.
The meal – a main, a side, a salad, and dessert – came in a neat brown paper bag with a wooden clip that contained a menu and cutlery. The sample meal had a distinct Japanese flavour with Okonomiyaki – a grilled (and slightly dry) savoury pancake with noodles and chicken mince as well as a sesame-studded sweet chocolate. Other dishes were steamed green peas with salt and a soft-boiled egg. As a meal, it tasted satisfactory but was not very filling.
Call 70454 51777 or visit their website. Lunch plans start at Rs. 575 (one meal) to Rs. 9,500 (20 lunches monthly). Delivery in Bandra and Colaba only.
Keto: Food Darzee
The low-carb, high-fat Ketogenic (Keto) diet has become so trendy there are dedicated delivery services catering to it. Food Darzee is one such place, offering nutritionist consultation, a tailored meal plan, and four meals a day.
Everything is made in-house, from nut flours to bread. You can’t choose your menu, but they don’t repeat a dish for at least 25 days, and their cuisine spans Indian, Continental, and Asian. The food comes in microwavable plastic containers and is adequately greasy – there’s lots of cheese and ghee – but delicious. Though heavy on the masala, it is tasty. Of note are paneer makhani, grilled chicken, and innovative dishes like mushroom cheese zucchini vada and vanilla almond flax custard.
Call 095905 10520 or visit Food Darzee. The cost is Rs. 1,000 (one-day trial), Rs. 9,200 (10-day plan). Delivery is done twice a day across Mumbai and some areas in Thane and Navi Mumbai; beyond that is an additional Rs. 100 charge.