The tale behind the famous Poojappura Chapatti
‘Gothamb unda (Wheat balls)’ dialogue is quite common in Malayalam cinema of 1980s or 1990s. As per popular beliefs, prisoners of Kerala jail are served with Gothamb unda thrice a day. As rice is the staple dish of Keralities, people used to hate wheat dishes including Chapatti a lot, two decades ago. So serving wheat thrice a day used to be the real punishment – as believed by everyone. Chapatti too was not common on Keralities’ dining table those days. It was believed to be a diabetic patient’s strict diet as instructed by his doctor.
Things have changed a lot from 1980s and 1990s. Keralites have also accepted Chappatti, daal and paneer dishes with methi leaves added. Many homes serve Chapatti as dinner. When Chapattis are made in large scale in Poojappura jail by prisoners and served to outer world in cheap rates, those strange old tales of Gothambunda started diminishing from people’s mind. In the 1990s, has anyone even dreamt that such an infamous place known for serving wheat dishes will distribute wheat dishes to outer world in distant future? It became a grand success as well.
The story of Poojappura Chapatti
It happened in the year 2011. Alexander Jacob who served as ADJP of Poojappura Central Jail was the officer who implemented the idea of Poojappura Chapatti. Trial prisoners are employed for this purpose; 8 working hours with three shifts, and 117 rupees as daily wages. Prisoners are happy, their families too!
In 2013 Kerala government made a huge profit of 20 lakh rupees by serving chapattis to Sabarimala pilgrims during the season and the preparations were done by prisoners of Pattanamthitta sub jail. In general hospital of Thiruvananthapuram city, they serve meals under the name – Samthripti Unit. The success of these units proves that society is willing to accept good deeds of people, forgetting that they are prisoners.
Chapattis in cheap rate – that’s why Poojappura Chapatti’s followers count increase day by day. 6 chapattis along with vegetable curry or egg curry cost only 30-35 rupees and if it’s substituted with chicken curry, 10 rupees will be added to the rate. A packet of 10 chapattis without curry costs only 25-30 rupees.
Poojappura Chapatti is already a big hit in the capital city. There are no health issues or registered complaints for this chapatti. They are prepared in extremely hygienic places.
Recipe of famous Poojappura Chilli Chicken
Chicken is cut into small pieces, and dipped in a mixture made using vinegar, turmeric powder, salt, eggs and corn flour. Chicken is fried in palm oil and placed aside. In another pan, sauté ginger, garlic, onions, kasoori methi, chilli powder, Kashmiri chilli powder, coriander powder, salt and turmeric powder. When it’s done, add water to prepare the gravy. Add the fried chicken, tomato sauce, chilli sauce and soya sauce to it, mixed well and finally green chillies, capsicum and coriander leaves. The contents are boiled well and put the flame off.
No compromise with hygiene
Similar to doctors in the operation theatre, the prisoners in ‘operation’ use glows, masks and head covers in the kitchen. Wheat used is also of good quality. Two machines are used to make chappatti dough. First one makes square pieces and second one makes round chapattis from them. In 1 hour 2000 chapattis are made by this machine. Yes both the machines and the prisoners bring crores of rupees profit from Thiruvananthapuram central jail unit itself.
Frying pans work on solar energy. These prepared chapattis are placed on frying pans, cooked and then send to packing unit. 10 chapattis are packed together and sealed. 6 chappatti packets are also made by adding the combo curry packet.
If 200 kilo chicken is used, 50 kilo will be separated for chilli chicken and the rest is used for chicken curry. Preservatives are not used for this eco-friendly chicken curry. For the combo packs, chicken curry/vegetable curry and a set of 6 chapattis are sealed together and then send to prison outlets.