Dal, rajma chhole, muttar paneer and rice, this humble lunch, packed one dish above the other, is part of 200 three-tiered tiffin boxes that leave Reshma's Tiffin service in Vasant Kunj. The phone rings non-stop in the background with queries from new customers, as the boxes get packed one ladle at a time, in a small home kitchen. "We get calls from students, old people, professionals and even those who are renovating their homes and can't cook. It is always busy," says SK Bhatia, owner of Reshma's Tiffin service. This is one of the 100-odd pure vegetarian tiffin services that are at work daily around the city, where the staple is "sabzi, dal, roti and rice" tiffin. Pricing is also a key factor for this new burgeoning business. For Devyansh, who runs a tiffin service in Mayur Vihar charging R50 per lunch meal, is the "standard price". "We give one dal, sabzi, chapati, salad and one sweet dish per week," he says, adding that he serves offices in central Delhi and Gurgaon.
However, for the reasonable prices, a few services do try hard enough to take it beyond just the normal dabba. Lohit Das of Home Made Tiffin Service, serves Assamese style food to students in North Campus with chicken and fish dishes in their tiffin. "We use less masala, and serve the fish only in the evening. The students get lunch and dinner from us, it is not very expensive as well. I like to surprise my customers, there is a new vegetable dish everyday," says Das. But if you are craving a lettuce and pear salad or grilled veggie crudites with peanut butter sauce, call up Tattva Fresh Organic Kitchen, that has a tiffin service that cater to the health conscious office goer. "We have 'work day meals' that includes, a light mid morning snack, lunch and an early evening snack. The menu plan also changes daily, it is part Indian and part International," says Anduradha Madhusudhanan of Tattva. But a mid-morning snack of green pilaff with cashews, mozzarella/cottage cheese and grilled chilly salad followed by lunch of sukhe chana dal, lobhia palak, cucumber and onion salad with mint and an evening snack of Cottage Cheese Patty with Raisins & Celery comes at a price of R500 per day for a large size meal. "Most our clients are higher ups like CFOs, CEOs of organisations since it is expensive. We have very few homes in our service list," says Madhusudhanan who sources the salads, grains and masalas from Navadanya organic food stores in the city.
For lovers of South Indian food, that goes beyond 'idli-dosa', a tiffin service run by Prima Kurien in GK2, is a godsend. You get to choose from Kerala delicacies like Erissery - pumpkin with lentils, fish molee - (fish in coconut milk and tomatoes), fish/chicken cutlets, chicken stew, prawn and raw mango curry that can be mopped up with puttu (ground roasted rice steamed with grated coconut) or fluffy appams. "The menu changes daily, it is not like a normal tiffin service. I prefer people who like to experiment with their food," says Kurien, who runs a catering service, and sends a tiffin to around 20 people right now. "It is not only Malayali food, I also serve regular dal-chawal meals or continental meals," she says. The joy of opening up a warm home cooked meal can be second to none, especially for office goers and hostel students who swear by these tiffin services.