Tihar Food Court, a new restaurant in New Delhi, serves its customers a regular fare of north Indian dishes – rice, flatbreads, lentils, samosas, and more. You’d probably get to eat these dishes at many other restaurants in India’s capital, but here’s what’s special about Tihar Food Court – the food is prepared and served by convicts serving time for murder at New Delhi’s infamous Tihar Jail.
The restaurant opened earlier this month within the sprawling Tihar complex – South Asia’s largest prison – as a rehabilitation effort on an experimental basis. It is a rather simple eatery with indoor and outdoor seating for around 50 customers, and cream colored walls decorated with paintings made by prisoners. The small staff consists of a manager who is also a police constable, and seven convicts who have displayed good behavior over several years of imprisonment.
To be eligible to leave prison for a few hours of work at the restaurant, inmates must have a high school education and need to have maintained an ‘unblemished’ record for at least 12 years. They mostly pick prisoners who are due to be released within two years time, so they don’t feel too tempted to escape. The inmates walk or ride a cycle to work everyday completely unsupervised, as the authorities apparently trust them enough not to provide an escort.