TAMIL NADU, INDIA, July 7, 2016 (BBC News): The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's "Amma Canteens," which serve cheap meals to hundreds of thousands of people daily, have become immensely popular with the poor and the middle classes. The menu today includes rice cooked with lentils and spices and curd rice. The former is selling for seven cents a plate while the latter costs just around 5 cents, a fraction of what the dishes would cost in any other restaurant. The portions are big and most describe the food as delicious. Diners buy coupons which are then exchanged for plates of rice.
AIADMK party spokesperson CR Saraswathi says Ms Jayalalithaa started the canteens to provide good, cheap food to the people. Today, there are more than 300 such eateries in the state, at least half of them in Chennai alone. They serve simple breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of the week. "The food is prepared hygienically, it's very well made and it's tasty," says CR Saraswathi, "Our chief minister started these canteens one year back to provide good, cheap food to the people. It has also generated employment for thousands of women. The canteens are run by women who cook, clean and serve." The canteens have helped poor and lower middle-class families massively slash their food bills and freed the womenfolk from the daily drudgery of cooking and cleaning. And their gratitude has often translated into votes for Amma.