The Displaced Nation

A home for international creatives

Tiffin: A displaced word of many meanings, but this one is sweetest

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“Taj Mahal” by Arvind Balaraman /

Tiffin – a word imported to England in the times of colonial British India, when, as well as being Queen of England, Victoria held the title of Empress of India.

Unlike other Anglo-Indian imports, such as gin and tonic or kedgeree, tiffin has shades of definitions – lunch, afternoon snack, or any light meal. My favorite definition, however, is the one given to me by my cookery teacher when I was twelve, which I’m sharing with you in honor of the wedding tomorrow.

It requires very little cooking, and if you start now, you will have enough time to make another batch to replace the one you intended to take to the street party but absent-mindedly ate instead.

One batch is never enough.



You will need:

100g / 4oz / 1/2 cup butter

50g / 2oz / 8 tablespoons desiccated (shredded) coconut – optional

50g / 2oz /1/3 cup seedless raisins

2 tablespoons golden syrup (see below if you’re unfamiliar with or can’t obtain this ingredient)

2 tablespoons powdered drinking chocolate (sweetened cocoa)

200g / 8oz / 2 cups broken digestive biscuits. If you can’t get digestive biscuits, graham crackers or crunchy oatmeal cookies would work.

100g / 4oz /2/3 cup plain (semi-sweet) or milk chocolate, as you prefer.

A 9″ x 9” cake tin, greased with butter. (Exact dimensions aren’t critical for the success of this recipe.)


1. In a small pan, melt the butter and golden syrup over low heat, then remove from heat.

2. Add coconut, raisins, drinking chocolate, and broken biscuits.

3. Mix well, then transfer to the greased tin. Pack down firmly with the back of a large spoon.

4. Put about an inch of water in a saucepan and bring the water to simmering point.

5. Break the chocolate into pieces and put in a heat-proof bowl (e.g., Pyrex). Fit the bowl over the pan of water, keeping the water simmering gently. Stir until the chocolate is melted.

6. Pour melted chocolate over the biscuit mixture in tin, and spread evenly.

7. Refrigerate for a few hours until chocolate is hard, then cut into small squares.

8. Serve with hot tea — of course.


Golden syrup

Golden syrup is a favorite in Britain and Australia. It’s thicker and sweeter than corn syrup, lighter in color than treacle (molasses), and  I knew it best for drizzling on my morning porridge before going to school.

In America it’s either unobtainable or very expensive, but according to an article on eHow, you can make your own.

You will need:

Heavy saucepan

1/2 cup white sugar

2 tsp. water

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

2/3 cup light corn syrup

Wooden spoon

Glass or plastic container


1. Pour the sugar in the saucepan, spread evenly over the bottom of the pan.

2. Mix water and vinegar, and sprinkle over the sugar.

3. Cook the mixture over low heat for five minutes. DO NOT STIR!

4. Turn the heat up to medium, and cook for a further five minutes, without stirring. Remove pan when mixture is a golden color.

5. Add light corn syrup and let mixture sit for 3 minutes. When the bubbling has stopped, stir well with wooden spoon.

6. Allow syrup to cool, then pour into a heatproof glass or plastic container, such as a mason jar. Seal, and store at room temperature. It will keep for two or three months.

(Thanks to my good friend and regular commenter on Displaced Nation, Joanna M-M, for sending me the link to this.)



Img “Taj Mahal” by Image: Arvind Balaraman /

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