He got a break in a serial called Ganga 1 and 2. He also acted as the main lead in the serial Piriyadha Varam Vendum. Dance and music were his passion and he participated in various events. A carefree happy boy who roamed in Avadi with his school friends, Vimal loved eating from roadside eateries. Those eateries were also the meeting place to discuss holiday plans and the future. Movies played a major influence on him, especially, films on friendship.
His mother always ensured his favourite dish was made when he returned from school or college. Vimal loves all Indian sweets and chocolates and also enjoys simple home-cooked food. His grandmother and mother cooked only on woodfires till the 90s. They used specially-cured clay vessels and a stone vessel to make his favourite kootu. It had to be milagu poricha kootu, whether it was made of chow chow, beans or cabbage. He could eat it at any time with white rice. “Usually, it will be South Indian food at home with poriyal, onion sambar and jeera rasam. Kootu was always made as a side dish, but for me, it was the main dish,” says Vimal. He remembers how his paatti, who lived in a village nearby, used to make kootu. “She makes the dish with fresh masala, boils lentils and veggies in a clay pot. The smell of kootu wafted across to the nearby fields and I ran back when I get the smell.”
Recipe of the beans-cabbage milagu poricha kootu
There are many references to Tamil food during the Chola, Chera and Pandya periods. One such food was kootu. In Sangam literature too, there is a mention of lentils cooked with vegetables, pepper and coconut. Poricha kootu means fried kootu made with moong dal, vegetables and seasoned with a ground paste of fried urad dal, pepper, red chillies, cumin and coconut, seasoned with curry leaves and mustard seeds. The chillies got added much later when it was introduced into South India by traders. The main seasoning was pepper. Even Avvaiyar in one of her famous thani padal thirattu has mentioned eating varagu or steamed rice with similar delicacy and mashed brinjal.
Kootu may be considered a royal dish that is native to Tamil Nadu and parts of Kerala. Besides cabbage and beans, one can use chow chow, pumpkin, drumsticks, snake gourd and yam to make this dish. Today, Vimal shares the recipe of kootu with beans and cabbage.
— Chef Ramaa Shanker is the author of Festive Offerings to the Gods: Divine Soul Recipes