Tiffin Time | Recipes | Chef Sanjeev Kapoor

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Tiffin Time !

It’s activity time again what with the schools reopening in some parts of the country after a short summer break. This term things will be a bit better as we have for you some wonderful ideas for lunch boxes. What should you pack so that your kids not only get delighted with the visual presentation but also get nutrition?

The lunch box per se has to be attractive! If your little girl wants everything pink from lunch box to water bottle, then so it should be! Small kindergarten kids also have distinct likes and dislikes. They would rather have the cartoon favourite of the season and that too in their favourite colour. It pays to go on a grand hunt and get this sort of stuff home. It is simple because most children will eat what you put in their chosen lunch box without much fuss! So let’s go shopping!

As a mom, it is important to keep the snack tins at home filled up with mostly healthy food. As the kids get used to the fact that mom is not lenient toward packaged junk munchies, they would not even contemplate demanding the same in the lunch box. So when you go shopping for your monthly provisions next time, take the kids along and let them see what you prefer to pick up.

Present food in glory

The school time table actually decides how many meals need to be packed. There is mostly a mid morning snack break followed by a lunch break. We suggest a third box that they can use while commuting back home. So, the first meal of breakfast is at home, mostly rushed. If it is a satisfactory meal like a fruit with milk, or an egg, or a parantha, then the mid morning box can have a small sandwich or favourite cookies with a pack of juice. A lunch meal has to be more substantial and can be rolled up chapattis with veggies (some kids can have potatoes in various forms, each day!), or a pulao, or a heavy sandwich or two. Here it is a good idea to take suggestions from your kids. Ask what they would prefer to eat from a list prepared by you! As the choices are all healthy and all they have to tick on it, it is a win-win situation. You should have the goal to pack a protein food with a cereal and some fruits and vegetables. Younger kids are happier with finger foods while others just cannot enjoy any dry preparations.

The moment the lunch box is opened is a decisive factor because if the food is pleasant to look at it gets eaten too. Kids adore fun shapes, colours and textures.

This is an important factor but the trickiest one too! Even moms do not know how much is enough for the kid on a particular day, in a particular mood on a school day. It is understandable that most moms tend to over pack the box! We feel too much food can be a deterrent. If the child needs more, he or she will tell you that the food was not enough! And if it were too much the leftovers in the tiffin would be sheer waste plus the fact that you would naturally tend to scold the kid. This kind of pressure is what confuses the kid who will then tend to finish an over packed tiffin, eating more than needed.

The gift packing - Tiffin Recipes

“Tiffin” word originated during the British India epoch and it means “to sip” referring to the meal consumed at tea time. Origins of the word are a little ambiguous and confusing. But if one closely scrutinizes the Tiffin or Dabba, it is actually a hauler useful in temporary storage and transporting a meal or lunch. In general, traditional tiffins were made of aluminum or stainless steel alloy, consisting of interlocking three to four-tiers at the bottom of the containers that fit well one on top of the other. Tiffin carriers were opened by unlocking a small catch on either side of the strap handle, then removing it. A very simple yet ingenious product used efficiently till date, for transporting lunch on a daily basis. An affordable innovation without a doubt and is by and large found in most Indian households. Today, modern day tiffins or lunch boxes are made from numerous alloys and varied materials such as toughened plastics, silicone, melamine etc. They come in various shapes and sizes.

The specific meal in a tiffin varies, depending on the regional parlance, but as a general rule, tiffin mainly holds individual portion of chapattis (Indian flat breads), rice, dal, vegetable dishes or meats, and something sweet. Now, tiffins or lunch boxes are largely of two types one that goes to the workplace to feed lunch to the adult or bread earner of the household and one that the school children carry to school. One dilemma, which troubles most mothers of school-going children, is what to pack in their tiffin boxes. Children easily get bored of eating the same foods and even the adults.

Keeping this in mind, I came up with a viable solution, my new latest offering Tiffins – Delicious and healthy khana for dabba will make life simpler! My first memories are of my own dabba, enjoying the lunch break at school, relishing the food packed so lovingly by my mother. Now, at home too I see my wife Alyona trying to make something new every now and then so that our daughters bring home empty tiffin boxes. I have shared my entire experience in this book.

Delight your child with a Nutella Sandwich or a Chicken and Cheese Sandwich to nibble on during the short break. Pack a helping of Kale Chane Puri or Pasta Hot Pot for the long break. You can enjoy these delights in your dabba too! And for those who like sweets, pack a Chocolate Brownie or a Tutti-fruity Cupcake. And if I may warn you, be sure to pack extra food for your colleagues - they will definitely want some too. To spice things up or to break the monotony of daily meals, accompaniments like yoghurt, raita, tamarind and mint chutney can be routinely added in.

All recipes are devised keeping in mind that food packed in the tiffin retains its freshness. For the offices going crowd, who have the facility of microwave, the food recipes that can be easily re-heated are included. All said and done due credit to the Indian housewives who are the primary force that make the daily tiffin scenario possible and pack in the wholesome meals with much effort and love. 


Surprise once in a while

Always try and find out what the other kids bring to school! There is bound to be mention of something nice your kid ate from a friend’s tiffin. In fact, the grass is always greener on the other side! You can always make calls to other mothers and have a mutual understanding. This way, cooperation actually helps the kids to develop a like for different sorts of foods. This also stops competition and kids generally have fun sharing tiffins or in some cases, even identical tiffins! They think it is one big party!

The lunch box is an extension of your home’s dining table in school. Your kid is bound to think about you and home while eating. So let the smaller children find little gifts inside to bring on a happy smile. It could be something small as a cute little sticker! Older children might enjoy a little note from you!

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.