Imagine going to jail for food!
Impeccably dressed in red and white striped uniforms, the courteous staff at the Tihar Food Court flash a smile as you enter.
Though just a month old, it has managed to woo Delhiites with some of its delights like kesar lassi, dahi bhalla and sandwiches – freshly prepared and swiftly served by the inmates themselves.
Started June 14, the eatery located on Jail Road, which also houses a flourishing furniture market in west Delhi, hopes to become a people-friendly joint that serves quality food at reasonable prices.
“Customers make their first visit to the eatery out of curiosity. But when they return with positive feedback and demand for getting our food packed, it feels great,” Suresh Kumar, a chef at the eatery, told IANS.
Suresh Kumar, who has already served over 14 years in jail, arguably Asia’s largest, is among the seven inmates who maintain and manage the spacious and clean joint, adjoining the furniture and bakery showroom, whose products, also made by the inmates, are already a rage.
The food court, which is an extended facility of the Tihar Shopping Plaza near gate No.3, remains open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch and from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. for dinner.
The eatery has 10 tables to accommodate around 40 guests. From samosas (Rs. 15), soyabean chop (Rs. 150) to a thali (Rs. 120), the joint has become popular by word of mouth.
Dost Mohammad, 51, whose job is to keep the joint clean, is happy to see people enjoying themselves at the eatery.
“It feels heartening to meet people from outside,” Mohammad, who has spent over 12 years inside the Tihar Jail for murder, told IANS.
Suresh Kumar and Dost Mohammad live in the semi-open jail, which houses those who have spent 12 or more years in prison. Prisoners are also shifted to this facility depending on their good conduct.
Suresh Kumar said the seven of them were selected from a batch of 50 inmates and were trained by experts from the hospitality sector in housekeeping, cooking and bakery.
What also went to their favour was their “good conduct, education and other skills”.
The seven lucky ones also receive an extra daily allowance of Rs.74.
Balkrishna Grover, a cook, said: “It was a two-month long training inside the jail complex itself, after which we were given a certificate and an amount of Rs.1,000-Rs.2,000 depending on the nature of training received.”
He was taught to make 106 dishes during the training period, he added.
“Try my shahi paneer. I consider the dish to be my specialty,” gushed Grover, who has completed 13 years in the jail and was earlier an electrician.
According to Tihar jail spokesperson Sunil Gupta, “the main idea is to reform, rehabilitate and reintegrate the continued…