‘Freedom chapatis’ from Kerala jails

Pampering the taste buds of Keralites are some unusual chefs -- prisoners, who are rolling out chapatis and preparing chicken and vegetarian curries for those outside the four walls of the jails.

Kochi: Pampering the taste buds of Keralites
are some unusual chefs -- prisoners, who are rolling out
chapatis and preparing chicken and vegetarian curries for
those outside the four walls of the jails.

Presently three prisons in the state -- Poojapura central
jail in Thiruvananthapuram, Viyoor central jail in Thrissur
and the Kozikode district jail have started the venture, which
is running successfully with about 60,000 chapatis being made
on an average daily with the help of machines by prisoners,
says Chief Welfare Officer, Jail department, K A Kumaran.

While Central prison at Thiruvananthapuram markets its
chapatis as `Poojapura Chapaties`, Viyoor jail inmates
have branded their product as `Freedom Chapatis`.

There are also plans to start similar ventures in Ernakulam
district jail and Kollam jail, Kumaran said. A proposal in
this regard would be submitted to the state government soon,
he said.

In Poojapura central jail, 40,000 chapatis, besides 3,500
packets of chicken and 500 packets of vegetarian curries are
made on an average daily, says B Pradeep, Superintendent,
Central Prison.

The demand for these ready-to-eat chapatis are so huge,
they are sold in no time, he said. While a packet
containing five chapatis and chicken curry is priced at Rs 25,
it is Rs 20 for same set with vegetable curry, he said.

The chapatis are ready by 9 AM at the three outlets at
Thiruvananthapuram. People queue up to take away the packets,
he said, adding the counters are open till 6 PM and fresh
chapatis are sent as per demand. Bulk orders are also coming
during Sundays which are accepted, he said.

Convicts serving life imprisonment are among those
participating in the venture launched by Tamil film
Actor-Director Cheran two months ago. Earlier, only chapatis
were made but from January 18 this year, the curries were also
prepared and sold.

In Poojapura Jail, two chapati making machines costing
about Rs 2.5 crore each have been installed.

There was so much enthusiasm among the prisoners that those
from other jails are also keen to come to Poojapura, Pradeep
said. There are also plans to start a bakery unit soon for
making banana chips and bread.

Pradeep said the prisoners at Poojapura have manufactured
about 10.5 lakh chapatis in the past two months.

During the Christmas season, the prisoners had made
star-shaped chapatis and sold them at outlets outside,
Pradeep said.

The affordable cost of the product has been the key to the
success of the venture. Counters have been set up in front
of the entrance of the prison. About 150 prisoners work in
different shifts in this exercise.

About 250 kg of chicken is needed for making 1,000 plates
of curry. About 500 vegetarian curries are prepared using
mainly vegetables grown in prison and also sourcing it from
government-run vegetable stalls outside. There is demand for
5,000 packets of chicken curries presently, Pradeep said.

Kumaran said there are also plans to start a unit for women
prisoners at Attakulangara in Thiruvananthapuram for making
idlis, chutney and sambar.

During the Mandala Pooja season, the inmates had provided
10,000 chapatis per day to the Padmanabhaswamy Temple
authorities to feed the devotees during the Sabarimala season.

The Poojapura prison complex is spread over in 61 acres of
land on which a variety of vegetables such as spinach and
cabbage are grown by the inmates.

In Viyoor and Kozhikode prisons, about 10,000 chapatis are
made each day and sold. Curries are not made. However, during
the recently held State School Youth Festival, the prisoners
had supplied about 10,000 chapatis a day.

Kumaran said the prison department had written to the
government to enhance the wages for those working in chapati

Prisoners are also engaged in other vocational activities
such as carpentry, weaving and masonry. Furniture for
government use is also made in the prisons, Kumaran said.


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