Sarathchandran, a retired officer of FACT, had been seeing the flex banner during his drives along the Airport-Seaport Road. But it took him some time and much thought before he could actually steer the car towards the district jail.

“I have been reading about the chappati being sold here and today, I decided to give it a try,” he said, while waiting with others at the visitor’s area of the District Jail for packets of ‘Metro Chappati’ to be taken out of the prison kitchen.

But then, as prison officials present said with much confidence, the majority of the public are not put off by the scary image of the big iron gate, and all imagined horrors of the life inside.

“On the last hartal day, the entire area was filled with people waiting for Metro Chappati. People are no longer worried about walking in here for placing orders,” said K.A. Balakrishnan, assistant jailor. The visitor’s area of the district jail is the only counter where Metro Chappati is available right now.

Metro Chappati is the ‘brand name’ for the chappati being sold, literally like hot cake, from the district jail here, as there are ‘Poojappura’ Chappati from Poojappura Central Jail, Thiruvananthapuram, Freedom Chappati from Viyyur Central Prison, Thrissur, and Kannur Central Prison, and ‘Santhwanam’ Chappati from Kozhikode district jail.

This popularity of Metro Chappati and side dishes – chicken, egg or vegetable curries – that go with it has now prompted the prison officials to take it to the world outside.

“We have been working on an arrangement to make Metro Chappati and curries available at points like Marine Drive and the medical college area. This will be launched most probably in a fortnight,” said T. Sudheer, Superintendent, district jail. The prison officials sounded all charged up as Alexander Jacob, Additional Director General of Police (Prisons) gave the go-ahead to their suggestion. And they sure have robust figures to support their claims.

Since the service was launched in January 26 this year, the district jail could remit nearly Rs. 7.5 lakh as profit to the State exchequer. With demand for the food on the rise, the district jail officials have written to the authorities to allot them one more chappati-making machines and more facilities at the kitchen.

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