How the Instant Pot Helped This Indian-American Forge Her Ethnic Identity

Presented by Chandra Ram, Chef, Author, Editor

To be Indian-American means you have a foot in two cultures. For Chandra Ram, author of The Complete Indian Instant Pot Cookbook, America is home, but some part of her identifies as Indian as well. She didn’t want to let go of Indian culture as her parents were encouraged to do when they immigrated a generation ago, but she didn’t always know how to claim it for herself.

Although she was always interested in food and cooking and went on to study at the Culinary Institute of America and cook at restaurants including Blackbird, it was hard to find her footing with Indian dishes that required hours in the kitchen, simmering lentils, curing pickles and fermenting dosa batter. She didn’t have as strong a background in Indian food as she would have liked, and felt a barrier to really explore the cuisine.

Weirdly, it took buying an Instant Pot to bring generations of family meals back into her kitchen. The Instant Pot opened a door to making her feel connected to her family and their food traditions, even while living a whiplash-fast American life. She could cook chana masala on a weeknight (starting with dried chickpeas!); make rasam at the first sign of a cold; and look her visiting auntie in the eye and tell her that she was making — not buying — her lime pickle.

Do join us as Chandra recounts Indian food culture and reveals how she found her ethnic identity while creating both traditional and modern Indian recipes for the Instant Pot. Copies of her book will be available for purchase.


Chandra Ram spent 15 years working as a cook, bartender, server and consulting chef before turning to food writing and editing Plate, an award-winning food magazine that challenges chefs to take food further. She is a James Beard- and IACP-nominated cookbook author and holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University Chicago, an associate’s degree in culinary arts from The Culinary Institute of America, and has passed the certificate level of the Court of Master Sommeliers exam. She is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Les Dames d’Escoffier, and the James Beard Foundation award committee. Chandra has won multiple awards for her writing and editing, including the Jesse H. Neal awards, the Folio awards, the Association of Food Journalists award, and the McAllister Editorial Fellowship.

Saturday, December 14, 2019
10 a.m. to noon
At Bethany Retirement Community

Auditorium, main floor
4950 N. Ashland Ave. (West of Clark St., North of Lawrence Ave.), Chicago

FREE PARKING on street and in Bethany’s lot.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Both CTA BUS #81, Lawrence, and #22 Clark, stop nearby.

Cost of the lecture program is $5, $3 for students and no charge for CHC members and Bethany Retirement residents.
To reserve, please e-mail your reservation to: