Doing Good: Karma Tiffin

Image from:  Guri Mehta
What could possibly be better than a home-cooked, organic, piping-hot lunch delivered to you in an Indian tiffin?  The fact that it's a gift... and all you're asked to do in return is pass along the favor.

Smita Khatri returned from a three month stay at the Gandhi ashram in Ahmedabad inspired to give back.  After bouncing around a few ideas, nine months ago she developed the model that became Karma Tiffin.  She takes a request for someone to make a meal for, spends a morning shopping, chopping, and cooking, then delivers a warm tiffin filled with vegetables, grains, and a vegetarian protein.  She recollects the tiffin after the meal, asking only that recipients pass along the favor as they see fit.  Recipients have given money, flowers, and an antique tiffin set in return, as well as passing along the idea to others.  The bright bag the tiffin comes in was sent to her by women she met while working at the ashram.

Although she could develop the idea as a business model, she's decided to leave it as a gift exchange.  This choice allows her the space to work when she's most motivated, bringing the principles of mindfulness to her skill in cooking and knowledge of healthy food combinations.

I had the pleasant surprise of receiving a tiffin from Smita, and I have to say it was a wonderful experience.  I brought home the metallic tiffin nestled in its bright bag and smiled.  As I slowly opened up the three different tiffin compartments I found a gorgeous dal, a subzi (vegetable dish) with tomatoes, red potatoes and cumin, and quinoa with cloves, peas and corn.  My puppy Eddy wandered into the kitchen to sniff at the counter as I unpacked the food.  Here's a picture of everything as I opened it up:

Inspired by Smita, I pulled out a recent issue of Shambhala Sun to read after I worked my way through the springy quinoa, soft dal and lovely potatoes (one of the great joys of eating mindfully is an increased awareness of food's texture as well as its taste).  I found an article by the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh that I will quote here:

"Just as the suffering is present in every cell of our body, so are the seeds of awakened understanding and happiness handed down to us from our ancestors.  We just have to use them.  We have a lamp inside us, the lamp of mindfulness, which we can light anytime.  The oil of that lamp is our breathing, our steps, and our peaceful smile.  We have to light up that lamp of mindfulness so the light will shine out and the darkness will dissipate and cease.  Our practice is to light up the lamp."

Smita lights the lamp of mindfulness one smile, one meal, one tiffin at a time.  And through Karma Tiffin she brings that practice of mindfulness to others.  Participate in that practice with her.  Light your own lamp of mindfulness.  Donate a tiffin to someone, spread the idea, and support Smita's practice.

Karma Tiffin Website

For the Thich Nhat Hanh article, please refer to the March 2011 issue of Shambhala Sun