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Cambridge tiffin services meet need of growing South Asian population

'It's a taste of home,' says owner of Cambridge tiffin service offering weekly pre-made meals consisting of traditional Indian cuisine
Tiffin services offer take-away meal service and are popular among the region's South Asian population.

Tiffin services are starting to take off in a rising trend in Cambridge as more international students take up residence in the city. 

With the growing population of the Cambridge South Asian diaspora, these weekly meal services are finding a comfortable home here in the region. 

"We are the busiest we've been," said Vikram Singh owner of Apna Khana Tiffin Service. "When people first come to Canada they are either afraid to try other food or can't cook, so we step in and offer food from mom's kitchen." 

Tiffin is an Indian word for 'meal' and these services provide packaged food for each day of the week. 

Having been in the tiffin business for the past four years, Singh has noticed the rise in international students predominately from India here in Cambridge and across the region. 

As more students are coming here, Singh looks at this as an opportunity to give those who might be homesick some comfort food without the hassle of cooking. 

He notes that if a student is living in a house with multiple people and is on a tight work schedule, it may be hard to find time to cook.

"A lot of these students are going to school and working full-time jobs, they don't have time to go shopping, cook and clean up," said Singh. "It's also nice if there are a lot of people living in the same house we can deliver to them and they can all have their portion." 

At Apna Khana, they serve only vegetarian dishes or sabzi. They also have fresh roti and a slow-cooked black lentil dish from north India called dal makhani. 

The meal plans can either be individual meals or be on a monthly plan. The monthly plan offers five or seven meals a week at varying price points. 

"There is a team of us that cook out of our home kitchen and we deliver to Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo and Guelph," said Singh. "Working for us is mostly students and newcomers to Canada." 

Singh notes that home kitchen tiffin services are so popular, because they offer the home-cooked meal element that many students are accustomed to. 

At Apna, the workers are mostly students. Singh adds he wants to give them opportunities to work and be in with their own community. 

"When you come here it's important to find people like you who can show you around and help you through," he said. "All of this food is simple, like we would eat growing up so we are all familiar with it." 

Apna went from serving around 300 monthly customers in 2022 to close to 1,000 by the end of 2023. 

"We are just one of many here in the Waterloo region, but we are still growing and it's nice to be able to offer these meals to our community," added Singh. 

To find out more about Apna Khana, visit their social media page.

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Joe McGinty

About the Author: Joe McGinty

Joe McGinty is a multimedia journalist who covers local news in the Cambridge area. He is a graduate of Conestoga College and began his career as a freelance journalist at CambridgeToday before joining full time.
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