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How to Order in an Indian Restaurant...

The Indian subcontinent has one of the world’s richest and most diverse culinary traditions, but ordering a meal can be a challenge. Diners who can comfortably navigate a Chinese or Thai menu may find themselves at sea when faced with an Indian menu. Some people are afraid the food will be mouth-searingly hot; others are unfamiliar with the names of the dishes. Restaurant owners complain that most of their customers limit themselves to three dishes: tandoori chicken, chicken tikka masala, and sag or palak paneer.

In her new book, Pakoras, Paneer, Pappadums: A Guide to Indian Restaurant Menus, local Indian food expert Colleen Taylor Sen demystifies South Asian ingredients and traditional and regional dishes in order to enhance readers’ enjoyment of one of the great world cuisines.

In her presentation, she’ll discuss: the components of an authentic Indian meal; the eight categories of Indian and Pakistani restaurants—and their specialties; the story behind tandoori chicken and other popular dishes; how to order within different culinary traditions and balance the myriad tastes and flavors; the "perfect couples," or how wine and other beverages pair with Indian dishes; and how Indian food can make you healthier.

As an experiment, Colleen decided to self-publish and self-market her book using Create Space. In the second half of her presentation, she’ll share her experiences and walk you through the process.

CHC Member Colleen Taylor Sen is a Chicago-based writer and journalist specializing in the cuisine of the Indian subcontinent. She is the author of Food Culture in India and Curry: A Global History and has written for Food Arts, Travel and Leisure, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun Times, the Toronto Globe and Mail, and other publications. She has travelled extensively throughout the Indian subcontinent.

Recorded Saturday, September 18, 2010 at Kendall College.

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