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.

Central Jail Poojappura Thiruvananthapuram

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

Poojappura Chappatti and Chicken

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

Chilly Chicken preparation in large scale

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.  

You can read a few more articles related to Thiruvananthapuram- The capital city of Kerala, and the posts cover different topics. Here is the page link. Click on the images in the gallery to read


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A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

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8 Responses

  1. Leila says:

    Hi Sandhya, I came across your food blog when I lost the recipe of Poojappura chilli chicken in Vanitha and googled to findoutand was surprised to know of the originof the recipe. Born in Kerala but lived only till I finished college it was interesting to read the facts about the recipe.

  2. Leila says:

    thank you.when I lived in India i wasnt that interested in Kerala because would then visit often. out of the country now I was happy to share with family and friends the real story.

  3. Leila R. Menon says:

    not a little bit a lot!

  4. Leila R. Menon says:

    yes I am , not by choice though! yours is an awesome website with so much of information. Having lived in Mumbai in my youth I am so much at home reading Bollywood. I think you live there too because I havent seen any Keralite with such interest in Bollywood.

    • Sandy says:

      Never, I have never gone outside South India. Yet I got interested in Bollywood, since childhood days when I used to watch songs and movies on Doordarshan. I prefer Bollywood movies to Malayalam. Thank you for your compliment. I have added only a few articles in each section. hoping to add more, indeed some unique ones.

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