Tamil Fest brings many foods, folk arts to Scarborough's Markham Road

WhatsOn Aug 23, 2017 by Mike Adler Scarborough Mirror

Good intentions in the kitchen, says Chef Damu, make food you're preparing more delicious.

“The best cooking has to come from the heart to the hand,” explained Damu, or K. Damodaran, a celebrity whose cooking shows have aired in South India for two decades.

“With love and affection, the food will not be a failure.”

That Damu has flown to Canada to demonstrate his skills at Tamil Fest — as he has for its previous two years — shows the scale and importance of what’s happening on Scarborough’s Markham Road this weekend.

To Kandiah Rajakulansingam, a catering business owner known as Babu, a festival partnership with Damu, often recognized by Tamil-Canadians in Scarborough and Markham, is a winning lottery ticket.

“I want to bring my standard up to the next level, so I need his help,” Rajakulansingam said this week at his Sheppard Avenue East store.

Though Damu’s something of a purist, researching traditional village recipes, and insisting food mixed with the hands tastes better, much of Tamil cuisine in Canada is evolving.

Kothu Rotu, a chop-up grill dish, is flexible enough to incorporate everything from jerk chicken to octopi.

Then there’s Jaffna Fries.

Dressed with chilies and onions, which grow around the northern Sri Lankan city many Greater Toronto Tamil families called home, the fries are doused with ranch dressing and roasted garlic.

Van Thevan, a chef whose specialty was Italian cuisine, invented them when he opened Wow! Wing House, whose 123 flavours, many packing high heat, have such names as Town of Jaffna and Texas Homicide.

“This town likes spicy. I couldn’t believe it myself,” Thevan said Tuesday at his shop on Markham’s New Delhi Drive.

On Saturday, Aug. 26, and Sunday, Aug. 27, his fries and wings vie with other Tamil delicacies, including kothu, hoppers, dosas and “short eats” — mutton rolls, samosas, fish patties — as 200,000 people stroll the road between Passmore and McNicoll avenues.

Tamil Fest offers Silambattam, a centuries-old martial art form which using long sticks and practised by women as well as men.

It might be the only spot in North America to see Villu Paatu, or bow song, an ancient art combining storytelling and singing with instruments such as the tabla and harmonium.

Narrators of stories, which are drawn from mythology or address contemporary issues, strike the bow, which is fitted with jangling bells.

In South India and Sri Lanka, Villu Paatu is vanishing. There’s not much money in it, and few places to perform, “but in Canada, they’re promoting it,” said Sokkelo Shanmugam of Scarborough, leader of the group performing Saturday.

“I will (teach) it to somebody, and he will give it to somebody, and it will go on.”

Tamil Fest has as many as 300 performers, some dancing until midnight. The opening ceremony Saturday at 12:30 p.m. mixes dances from classical to cinematic.

Kiruthika Thayaparan, the festival’s entertainment co-ordinator and a dancer herself, feels the traditional dances “are still close to our roots” though Tamil-Canadians live far from Sri Lanka.

“This is our way to showcase our identity.”

Tamil Fest brings many foods, folk arts to Scarborough's Markham Road

Best food comes from 'heart to hand' says South Indian chef

WhatsOn Aug 23, 2017 by Mike Adler Scarborough Mirror

Good intentions in the kitchen, says Chef Damu, make food you're preparing more delicious.

“The best cooking has to come from the heart to the hand,” explained Damu, or K. Damodaran, a celebrity whose cooking shows have aired in South India for two decades.

“With love and affection, the food will not be a failure.”

That Damu has flown to Canada to demonstrate his skills at Tamil Fest — as he has for its previous two years — shows the scale and importance of what’s happening on Scarborough’s Markham Road this weekend.

Related Content

To Kandiah Rajakulansingam, a catering business owner known as Babu, a festival partnership with Damu, often recognized by Tamil-Canadians in Scarborough and Markham, is a winning lottery ticket.

“I want to bring my standard up to the next level, so I need his help,” Rajakulansingam said this week at his Sheppard Avenue East store.

Though Damu’s something of a purist, researching traditional village recipes, and insisting food mixed with the hands tastes better, much of Tamil cuisine in Canada is evolving.

Kothu Rotu, a chop-up grill dish, is flexible enough to incorporate everything from jerk chicken to octopi.

Then there’s Jaffna Fries.

Dressed with chilies and onions, which grow around the northern Sri Lankan city many Greater Toronto Tamil families called home, the fries are doused with ranch dressing and roasted garlic.

Van Thevan, a chef whose specialty was Italian cuisine, invented them when he opened Wow! Wing House, whose 123 flavours, many packing high heat, have such names as Town of Jaffna and Texas Homicide.

“This town likes spicy. I couldn’t believe it myself,” Thevan said Tuesday at his shop on Markham’s New Delhi Drive.

On Saturday, Aug. 26, and Sunday, Aug. 27, his fries and wings vie with other Tamil delicacies, including kothu, hoppers, dosas and “short eats” — mutton rolls, samosas, fish patties — as 200,000 people stroll the road between Passmore and McNicoll avenues.

Tamil Fest offers Silambattam, a centuries-old martial art form which using long sticks and practised by women as well as men.

It might be the only spot in North America to see Villu Paatu, or bow song, an ancient art combining storytelling and singing with instruments such as the tabla and harmonium.

Narrators of stories, which are drawn from mythology or address contemporary issues, strike the bow, which is fitted with jangling bells.

In South India and Sri Lanka, Villu Paatu is vanishing. There’s not much money in it, and few places to perform, “but in Canada, they’re promoting it,” said Sokkelo Shanmugam of Scarborough, leader of the group performing Saturday.

“I will (teach) it to somebody, and he will give it to somebody, and it will go on.”

Tamil Fest has as many as 300 performers, some dancing until midnight. The opening ceremony Saturday at 12:30 p.m. mixes dances from classical to cinematic.

Kiruthika Thayaparan, the festival’s entertainment co-ordinator and a dancer herself, feels the traditional dances “are still close to our roots” though Tamil-Canadians live far from Sri Lanka.

“This is our way to showcase our identity.”

Tamil Fest brings many foods, folk arts to Scarborough's Markham Road

Best food comes from 'heart to hand' says South Indian chef

WhatsOn Aug 23, 2017 by Mike Adler Scarborough Mirror

Good intentions in the kitchen, says Chef Damu, make food you're preparing more delicious.

“The best cooking has to come from the heart to the hand,” explained Damu, or K. Damodaran, a celebrity whose cooking shows have aired in South India for two decades.

“With love and affection, the food will not be a failure.”

That Damu has flown to Canada to demonstrate his skills at Tamil Fest — as he has for its previous two years — shows the scale and importance of what’s happening on Scarborough’s Markham Road this weekend.

Related Content

To Kandiah Rajakulansingam, a catering business owner known as Babu, a festival partnership with Damu, often recognized by Tamil-Canadians in Scarborough and Markham, is a winning lottery ticket.

“I want to bring my standard up to the next level, so I need his help,” Rajakulansingam said this week at his Sheppard Avenue East store.

Though Damu’s something of a purist, researching traditional village recipes, and insisting food mixed with the hands tastes better, much of Tamil cuisine in Canada is evolving.

Kothu Rotu, a chop-up grill dish, is flexible enough to incorporate everything from jerk chicken to octopi.

Then there’s Jaffna Fries.

Dressed with chilies and onions, which grow around the northern Sri Lankan city many Greater Toronto Tamil families called home, the fries are doused with ranch dressing and roasted garlic.

Van Thevan, a chef whose specialty was Italian cuisine, invented them when he opened Wow! Wing House, whose 123 flavours, many packing high heat, have such names as Town of Jaffna and Texas Homicide.

“This town likes spicy. I couldn’t believe it myself,” Thevan said Tuesday at his shop on Markham’s New Delhi Drive.

On Saturday, Aug. 26, and Sunday, Aug. 27, his fries and wings vie with other Tamil delicacies, including kothu, hoppers, dosas and “short eats” — mutton rolls, samosas, fish patties — as 200,000 people stroll the road between Passmore and McNicoll avenues.

Tamil Fest offers Silambattam, a centuries-old martial art form which using long sticks and practised by women as well as men.

It might be the only spot in North America to see Villu Paatu, or bow song, an ancient art combining storytelling and singing with instruments such as the tabla and harmonium.

Narrators of stories, which are drawn from mythology or address contemporary issues, strike the bow, which is fitted with jangling bells.

In South India and Sri Lanka, Villu Paatu is vanishing. There’s not much money in it, and few places to perform, “but in Canada, they’re promoting it,” said Sokkelo Shanmugam of Scarborough, leader of the group performing Saturday.

“I will (teach) it to somebody, and he will give it to somebody, and it will go on.”

Tamil Fest has as many as 300 performers, some dancing until midnight. The opening ceremony Saturday at 12:30 p.m. mixes dances from classical to cinematic.

Kiruthika Thayaparan, the festival’s entertainment co-ordinator and a dancer herself, feels the traditional dances “are still close to our roots” though Tamil-Canadians live far from Sri Lanka.

“This is our way to showcase our identity.”