Climbing the Mango Trees

By Madhur Jaffrey,

Book cover of Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India

Book description

'I was born in a sprawling house by the Yamuna River in Delhi. When I was a few minutes old, Grandmother welcomed me into the world by writing 'Om', which means 'I am' in Sanskrit, on my tongue with a little finger dipped in honey. When the family priest arrived…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked Climbing the Mango Trees as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Madhur Jaffrey—the actress/author/celebrity chef whose cookbooks opened up to an entire generation of Brits and Americans the wonders of Indian cuisine—taught me to cook Indian food. And then this beautiful memoir taught me to appreciate the history and culture from whence her recipes spring. A heartfelt and vivid tale of growing up in northern India under the shadow of the coming world war, Climbing the Mango Trees is the story of family, spicy cauliflower (and yes, mangos, too!), and the ability of food to evoke memory and unite us all. 

Growing up, my mom was often cooking something from one of Jaffrey’s brilliant cookbooks. Jaffrey’s memoir about her childhood in Delhi and Kampur is just as delicious. It begins on the high mango trees, where the older cousins and siblings climbed to pick and slice the juicy fruits and the younger kids dipped them into salt, red chilies, and smoky cumin. Elaborate meals were served for a boisterous extended family, presided over by the benevolent but moody patriarch Babaji. Jaffrey writes with insightful precision about the Hindu, Muslim, and British influences that shaped her country, and the devastation of partition…

From Hannah's list on celebrating food.

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