Tamil cuisine is some of the tastiest food in the world. Lucky for Toronto, we have a large Tamil population from Sri Lanka and South India, so this food is available if you know where to find it. Tamil food is notable for its high spice levels, and it has a different combination of flavours and spices than Indian food.
A shiny new strip mall—or rather, series of strip malls—at the Markham/Scarborough border is a great place to try authentic Tamil food. The Market East complex at the south east corner of Steeles Ave. East and Markham Rd., which opened up about two years ago, houses a grocery store, money transfer agency, dental office, jewellery shop and a newspaper that cater to the nearby Tamil community.
They serve kothu roti, a wonderful dish made of chopped up roti bread cooked with meat. Also on the menu is string hoppers, a rice noodle dish served with curry, and pittu, a rolled cylinder of rice with coconut.
The vegetarian meal was made up of wonderful variety of tasty dishes: an okra and tomato stew, a spicy salad with tomatoes, a mixture of ground banana flowers, a curry made of long beans and potatoes, shredded beets, dahl, and a generous portion of rice. Plus, it came with pappadam, a cup of soup and a dessert made of tapioca.
One banana leaf meal is easily enough food to share between two or even three people. The photo below is of the meal, along with a mutton roll, some buns stuffed with various curried meats and vadai (chick pea fritters). Total bill: $12.
Similar fare is available at Poorani Vilaas take-out restaurant, in one of the other plazas in the complex (6055 Steeles Ave. East, unit 104, tel: 416-355-7775.)
The friendly owner, Saroginidevy Ratnavel, was keen to show off her tasty "short eats," which are fried or baked street foods. Some are empanada-like pastries stuffed with tasty fish and potato curries, while others are timbitesque sweets you can enjoy after your meal...if you are not completely stuffed.
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