Taste of India Tour Review – Diversity Lessons on Devon


Chicago’s Indo-American Heritage Museum (IAHM) has found a delicious way to introduce you to the diversity of both India and the Indian-American community in Chicagoland. 


The thali dish that each person was served included: Northern Indian Mattar Pulau (basmati rice and green peas); Northern India Raita (whipped yogurt garnished with cilantro); Sambar typical of Tamil Nadu (lentil and vegetable stew in a tamarind sauce); Uttar Pradesh Palak Chana Dal (split peas with spinach); Telangana Hyderabadi Baigan (stuffed eggplant cooked with pungent spices); Kerala Thoran (stir fried green beans garnished with coconut); Kashmiri Roghan Josh (lamb in mild spice yogurt, saffron, nut sauce); and West Bengal Doi Maach (fish cooked with yogurt, onion, spices and raisins


With a focal point of a thali meal at Tiffin Restaurant showcasing various dishes drawn from the distinctive regional cuisines of India,




combined with a visit to a food market on Devon (Patel Brothers, 2610 W Devon)



and a sari shop (Sahil apparel shop, 2605 W. Devon) the IAHM gives you a quick and easy-to-digest primer on Indian diversity.  (Note:  a thali is somewhat like a one-plate sized buffet that gives you a variety of dishes and sauces with accompanying rice and breads.)




We learned, for example, of the 28 languages spoken in India and how that comes to bear in creating a multicultural scene in cities like Mumbai (a.k.a. Bombay). 



The highlights of Indian immigration to the US in general and Chicago in specific- the very history that IAHM is devoted to preserve—was also reviewed in a short course that preceded our tour to Sahil apparel shop and the Patel Brothers food market.



Our three IAHM hosts embodied the very diversity we were learning about: Lakshmi Menon is a Hindu from Kerala; Happie “Harpreet” Datt is a Sikh from Punjab; and Dorothie Shah, a native of New York, had married into a Gujurati family that had moved to Mumbai.  




By sharing their stories of traditions and rituals from their respective regions a picture of India’s rich diversity was conveyed.  For example, we learned that bright red wedding attire is common in many parts of Northern India but that in hot and humid Kerala a bride would more likely wear an off-white muslin sari with gold trim. 



The group attending the Taste of India Tour was in itself diverse, not only by measures of race, ethnic background, marital status and age, but perhaps more to the point, also divided into those who are nostalgic for the India they had visited and others who have India travel high on their wish list.



Plugging into this and other IAHM events is a wonderful way to feed your wanderlust for India and get to know the cultural traditions of your Indo-American neighbors. 




Do know to make advance arrangements if you want to attend a Taste of India Tour, as the event organizers need to pre-arrange the elaborate thali meal you will be served at the host restaurant such that last-minute drop-ins cannot be accommodated.



To receive information about IAHM activities or to arrange a TASTE OF INDIA TOUR for  your group of  at least 12 people, email [email protected]  .  Again, note that advance booking is essential.


Also, check the Indo-American Heritage Museum website to learn about upcoming events. 



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