Traditional Tiffin Take-Away

I spotted these beautiful tiffin carriers that used to be a common sight in most Malaysian kitchens at one time. Unlike the stainless-steel Indian tiffin carriers, the Malaysian version is usually in plain pastel colours or adorned with beautiful motifs – usually flowers.

I’m not entirely sure, but I think these originate from the kitchens of the Straits Chinese (Baba & Nyonya).

Pretty tiffins all in a row @Ali Baba & Nyonya, KL

In the early 70s and 80s I recall my parents bringing along their pale yellow tiffin carrier with a green border to the shop or hawker stall whenever they wanted to pack – or as we locals say ‘tapau’ food to take-away.

Similarly the hawker selling an array of food like prawn noodles, soya bean curd and milk, ‘bao’, string hoppers, ‘chee cheong fun’, and sweet cakes from their bikes and vans would ask us to bring our own bowls, jugs and tiffin carriers to them to fill in.

This was before yucky plastics made their way into our lives. Yes it was convenient to just show up at a stall and get them to pack or ‘bungkus’ our food to take away, instead of lugging around a tiffin carrier.

I’m not a scientist but common sense will tell you that some components of the plastic are bound to find their way into hot food that is packed in plastic bags, wrappers or containers.

I’m starting to use my own LaGourmet tiffin carrier to pack my food for health reasons and to reduce dependency on plastics.

It’s not as pretty (or sturdy) as the traditional ones – that are rare finds nowadays- but it’ll do for now.

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