Colleen Taylor Sen

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Colleen Taylor Sen
Alma materColumbia University
Spouse(s)Ashish Sen

Colleen Taylor Sen is a Canadian American translator and author specializing in Indian cuisine. She has written six books, several articles and has also contributed entries to many encyclopedias.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Sen was born in Toronto on March 17, 1944. She holds a B.A. and M.A. in Slavic Studies from the University of Toronto and a PhD in Slavic Languages from Columbia University. After completing her PhD, she participated in chess competitions, analyzed chess games for Channel 11, and was profiled in the Sun Times for her skills in playing chess.[3]


In 1973-74 Sen taught Slavic languages at Roosevelt University, Chicago. She joined the Gas Technology Institute in 1975 and until retiring in 2013 held various positions in policy, external relations, and education. In 1990 she launched The LNG Observer, the world's first publication devoted to liquefied natural gas. She was editor (with Bob Nimocks) of The World LNG Source Book: An Encyclopedia of the Global LNG Industry.[4]

From 1995 to 2010, she served as a member of the Steering Committee of the International Conferences on Liquefied Natural Gas.[4]

Food Author[edit]

Starting in the early 1970s, Sen contributed free-lance articles to such publications as Travel and Leisure, Food Arts, the Chicago Sun Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Christian Science Monitor,[5] and The Globe and Mail.[6] In 1996, she became a regular participant in the Oxford Symposia on Food and Cookery.[1]

Her first book, Food Culture in India, was published in 2004 followed by her next book Curry: A Global History.[7] At the suggestion of a local restaurateur, she wrote Pakoras, Paneer, Pappadums: A Guide to Indian Restaurant Menus which was published in 2010.[1][8]

In 2013, she and Bruce Kraig were coeditors of Street Food around the World: An Encyclopedia of Food and Culture.[1][9] The next year she teamed with Helen Saberi to write Turmeric: The Wonder Spice.[10]

Sen's latest book Feasts and Fasts: A History of Food in India was published in England in 2015 and in India in 2016. Chicago Tribune called the book, "a richly detailed volume"[11] and The Independent wrote that the book is "an ambitious tome which explores India's various dietary conventions and religions through the ages."[12] Vir Sanghvi called Feasts and Fasts "a fascinating book because it overturns many of the layperson's most commonly held beliefs about Indian food".[13] In December, Vogue included the book in its list of 16 best cookbooks of 2015 and wrote that it is "an irresistible edition to your kitchen shelf, the history inside is richer than any Indian dish you've ever tasted."[14] Smithsonian Magazine selected Feasts and Fasts as one of the best books about food in 2016.[15]

She has also organised many culinary tours of Indian stores and has given talks and cooking demonstrations on Indian cuisine.[1][16]


  • Order des Palmes Academiques (Officier) by the French Government

Personal life[edit]

She is married to Ashish Sen, a professor and transportation statistician.


Selected translations[edit]

  • Let History Judge (Knopf, 1972)
  • The National Question: Selected Writings of Rosa Luxemburg (Monthly Review Press, 1976)


  • Food Culture in India (Greenwood, 2006)
  • Curry: A Global History (Reaktion, 2009)
  • Pakoras, Paneer, Pappadums: A Guide to North American Indian Restaurants (Self-Published, 2010).
  • Street Food around the World: An Encyclopaedia of Food and Culture (with Bruce Kraig), (ABC Clio, 2013)
  • Turmeric: The Wonder Spice (with Helen Saberi) (Agate, 2014)
  • Feasts and Fasts: A History of Food in India (Reaktion,2015) (New Delhi: Speaking Tiger, 2016)
  • The Indian Restaurant Menu Decoded (2014)


  1. ^ a b c d e "Culinary chronicles".
  2. ^ "Curry, A Global History".
  3. ^ "Not Everything Chess is Black and White". Chicago Sun Times. 3 August 1972.
  4. ^ a b "GTI and Zeus Development Publish New Encylopedia [sic] of World LNG Industry". Pipeline & Gas Journal. 2010. Retrieved 2017-09-10.
  5. ^ "In Delhi, it's the Moti Mahal. A restaurant that brought dining out Indian style to the world".
  6. ^ "Know your thitheo from your turon with help from a new street food encyclopedia".
  7. ^ "History of curry".
  8. ^ "In Print: Colleen Taylor Sen's Guide to Indian Restaurant Menus".
  9. ^ "The Reluctant Gourmet — The politics of curry".
  10. ^ Bertelsen, Cynthia (2014-03-11). "The Wonder Spice: A Review of Turmeric, a Cookbook by Colleen Taylor Sen and Helen Saberi". Cynthia D. Bertelsen's Gherkins & Tomatoes. Retrieved 2017-09-10.
  11. ^ "Savoring the food of India".
  12. ^ "Food books round-up: Nurturing the soul and what it means to be truly full". The Independent.
  13. ^ Sanghvi, Vir, Hindustan Times, March 12, 2016
  14. ^ "The Best Cookbooks of 2015".
  15. ^ "The Best Books About Food of 2016".
  16. ^ "NYC Events for the Weekend (and Beyond)".