This month, I started a weekly column on CBC Radio’s afternoon show, The Homestretch. The focus is on hidden gems and holes-in-the-walls in Calgary. Tune into FM99.1 or AM1010 or live online every Wednesday at 5:20 p.m.
This is my Calgary-style tiffin. A tiffin is basically made up of metal, flat-bottomed bowls that stack on top of each other. This one has an additional insulated container to keep my food warm in the Calgary winters.
In Mumbai, a tiffin is used to pack rice, curry and dal as a meal for working men. Every day, thousands of dabbawalas use a complex delivery system to get the hot meals from homes to workplaces, and then return the empty containers back to the homes.
Tiffin Curry and Roti House in southeast Calgary plays on that tradition. They started a delivery program in October, mostly targeted at offices. For a minimum order of 10 tiffins (average $12.95 each), they will deliver a hot lunch of two curries of your choice, plus rice and two chapati flatbreads, in individual tiffins, and then pick up the containers when you’re done.
You can also eat in or take out yourself from the cafeteria-style restaurant. If you end up going to Tiffin regularly, you can buy a tiffin for yourself ($20 for a small or $25 for a large). Every time you bring it in, you get 10 per cent off combo meals. So it’s not only a good deal, but also very environmentally friendly.
The one I have (first picture) is a large tiffin. It has four metal containers, instead of three in the small tiffin. When filled, it’s enough for Jason and me for dinner, plus some leftovers for the next day.
Tiffin has northern Indian and east African influences in its food, reflecting the heritage of owner Aly Ramji’s parents. Butter chicken is always on the menu, along with a daily changing menu of six curries, both meat and vegetarian. I really like the okra curry.
On the last visit I discovered their spicy beef ribs, which I can’t stop thinking about. The marinated short ribs are grilled and then tossed in a spicy sauce. You can pick mild, medium, hot or crazy hot. Ramji assured me these are not North American levels of spiciness. I got a cross between medium and hot, and WOOOO, they’re gooood.
The ribs are $13.95 for a pound, or you can get five pounds uncooked for $39.95 if you’re planning a big barbecue.
For entertainment value, Tiffin has a roti machine. It churns out chapatis but Tiffin calls the whole-wheat flatbread rotis here. I’ve only seen the machine going once, but Ramji says it’s usually running during lunch time and just before the dinner rush.
Tiffin Curry and Roti House, 188-28th St. SE, Calgary, (403) 273-2420.