Devon Avenue’s evolution to being hub of Chicago’s Indian, South Asian community

Devon Avenue: Long known as Little India, the West Ridge strip is heavily South Asian, increasingly diverse.

Sun-Times file

Beverly Kumar knows which bakeries and restaurants in Chicago offer flavors that take her back to Mumbai, India, where she grew up.

These businesses are clustered on a mile-long stretch of Devon Avenue from about California Avenue on the west to Damen Avenue on the east in West Ridge on the city’s far North Side, an area now commonly known as Little India.

Kumar, a board member of the National Indo-American Museum, visits every time she has a taste for a traditional Indian fudge called Kalakand, which is made with milk and cardamom.

“It’s very comforting knowing that just…14 miles away from my house, there is an essence of Little India,” says Kumar, who lives in Northbrook. “it’s nostalgia for me. With the familiar sights, smells, sounds, you know, flavors of home… I feel like I never moved away after all.”

The neighborhood is one of the most diverse in the city. It’s also a hub for dozens of South Asian businesses, including grocery stores and shops selling saris and jewelry.

Like Kumar, people often come from elsewhere in the city or beyond to eat and shop on this part of Devon Avenue.

So how did Devon Avenue become a primarily Indian community?

WBEZ Curious City

This story originally appeared on WBEZ’s Curious City, a podcast that answers questions about Chicago and the region.

Metropolitan Chicago has the …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun Times

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