Baking skills: Inmates preparing Raya cookies at the in-house bakery within the prison complex in Kajang.
KAJANG: In just three years, Nadia went from not knowing how to bake cookies to churning out 12 different types of mouth-watering kuih Raya.
During that time, she could not celebrate Hari Raya at her family home in Kedah. She spends her Ramadan – and Syawal – at the Kajang Women’s Prison.
Thirty-six-year-old Nadia is among 200 inmates who bake cakes and cookies during the festive season for sale to the public.
“Before I was imprisoned, I never even bothered to try baking kuih Raya,” she said at the prison complex yesterday.
“Often, an elder in the family would bake the cookies, or if we were pressed for time we would just buy them from the supermarkets,” she recalled.
Inmates from 12 prisons nationwide earn between 30sen and RM1 a day working at in-house bakeries in the prison complex.
They churn out 42 varieties of kuih raya and snacks, along with seven types of frozen food.
The products, marketed under the brand name “My Pride”, are available for sale at prison galleries in Kajang, Ayer Keroh, Johor Baru, Pengkalan Chepa and the Rural Transformation Centre in Gopeng.
Orders can also be made via the Prison Department’s website www.prison.gov.my.
Asked how she picked up her baking skills, Nadia said it was not too difficult as other inmates taught her how to roll the dough and decorate the cookies.
“My family will be coming to visit during Hari Raya and for that, I will set aside their favourite kuih bangkit asli and blueberry cheese cake, which I will bake,” she said.
Prison Department deputy commissioner Datuk Mohd Sakeri Dollah said RM21.5mil was raised from sales of My Pride products last year.
“This year, we hope to raise RM25mil. The revenue will be used as a revolving capital to generate more products in our workshops,” he added.
“Cookies cost RM22 to RM25 per container, depending on the type. Our most popular cookies are Almond London and pineapple tarts.”
The inmates also prepare gift hampers of cookies, priced between RM75 and RM120.
Frozen foods made by the inmates are available at Mydin hypermarkets in USJ Subang and Semenyih. The most sought after products are mini murtabak and curry puffs.