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Today's most highly regarded writer on Indian food gives us an enchanting memoir of her childhood in Delhi in an age and a society that has since disappeared. Madhur (meaning "sweet as honey") Jaffrey grew up in a large family compound where her grandfather often presided over dinners at which forty or more members of his extended family would savor together the wonderfull Today's most highly regarded writer on Indian food gives us an enchanting memoir of her childhood in Delhi in an age and a society that has since disappeared. Madhur (meaning "sweet as honey") Jaffrey grew up in a large family compound where her grandfather often presided over dinners at which forty or more members of his extended family would savor together the wonderfully flavorful dishes that were forever imprinted on Madhur's palate. Climbing mango trees in the orchard, armed with a mixture of salt, pepper, ground chilies, and roasted cumin; picnicking in the Himalayan foothills on meatballs stuffed with raisins and mint and tucked into freshly fried "poori"s; sampling the heady flavors in the lunch boxes of Muslim friends; sneaking tastes of exotic street fare—these are the food memories Madhur Jaffrey draws on as a way of telling her story. Independent, sensitive, and ever curious, as a young girl she loved uncovering her family's many-layered history, and she was deeply affected by their personal trials and by the devastating consequences of Partition, which ripped their world apart. "Climbing the Mango Trees" is both an enormously appealing account of an unusual childhood and a testament to the power of food to evoke memory. And, at the end, this treasure of a book contains a secret ingredient—more than thirty family recipes recovered from Madhur's childhood, which she now shares with us.


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Today's most highly regarded writer on Indian food gives us an enchanting memoir of her childhood in Delhi in an age and a society that has since disappeared. Madhur (meaning "sweet as honey") Jaffrey grew up in a large family compound where her grandfather often presided over dinners at which forty or more members of his extended family would savor together the wonderfull Today's most highly regarded writer on Indian food gives us an enchanting memoir of her childhood in Delhi in an age and a society that has since disappeared. Madhur (meaning "sweet as honey") Jaffrey grew up in a large family compound where her grandfather often presided over dinners at which forty or more members of his extended family would savor together the wonderfully flavorful dishes that were forever imprinted on Madhur's palate. Climbing mango trees in the orchard, armed with a mixture of salt, pepper, ground chilies, and roasted cumin; picnicking in the Himalayan foothills on meatballs stuffed with raisins and mint and tucked into freshly fried "poori"s; sampling the heady flavors in the lunch boxes of Muslim friends; sneaking tastes of exotic street fare—these are the food memories Madhur Jaffrey draws on as a way of telling her story. Independent, sensitive, and ever curious, as a young girl she loved uncovering her family's many-layered history, and she was deeply affected by their personal trials and by the devastating consequences of Partition, which ripped their world apart. "Climbing the Mango Trees" is both an enormously appealing account of an unusual childhood and a testament to the power of food to evoke memory. And, at the end, this treasure of a book contains a secret ingredient—more than thirty family recipes recovered from Madhur's childhood, which she now shares with us.

30 review for Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India

  1. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    I picked this book up thinking any book that my daughter recommends, contains food, is a memoir (one of my favorite genres) and takes the reader to a foreign land, has to be worth a read. Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India did not disappoint. Right off the top, I want to say that I don't foresee every reader liking this book because it is not a swashbuckling venture through India. This book is a slow-cooker and it never comes to boil. What it is is a delightful feast that I picked this book up thinking any book that my daughter recommends, contains food, is a memoir (one of my favorite genres) and takes the reader to a foreign land, has to be worth a read. Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India did not disappoint. Right off the top, I want to say that I don't foresee every reader liking this book because it is not a swashbuckling venture through India. This book is a slow-cooker and it never comes to boil. What it is is a delightful feast that simmers slowly: memories of delicious Indian dishes prepared by her Mother or a meal with Jaffrey's very large extended family; the pain of growth individually and of her family and country; a wonderful look at the different cultures in India, Muslim,British and more; an enlightening peek at Jaffrey's subcaste, the Kayasthas; many trips throughout India with an emphasis on what makes those part of India unique. I loved the flavor of this book; light and delicious. I ended it feeling I knew much more about the Kayasthas and had made a delightful acquaintance in Jaffrey, herself. The Kayasthas subcaste angle is a part of my feature on the Indian caste system for my Monday, May 13th blog 4.0 stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    For fans of Madhur Jaffrey's cookbooks, this memoir will be, well, ... weird. I have been a fan for years, ever since I picked up one of her cookbooks while living in London. She has come to feel very much of a household presence for me, and I have felt intimately acquainted with her for years through cooking and eating her family's recipes. (Which are all DELICIOUS, by the way....) I had seen some excellent reviews of this memoir on amazon, and confidently suggested it to my book club when I sa For fans of Madhur Jaffrey's cookbooks, this memoir will be, well, ... weird. I have been a fan for years, ever since I picked up one of her cookbooks while living in London. She has come to feel very much of a household presence for me, and I have felt intimately acquainted with her for years through cooking and eating her family's recipes. (Which are all DELICIOUS, by the way....) I had seen some excellent reviews of this memoir on amazon, and confidently suggested it to my book club when I saw it on a list of available books in our library's book club kits. I don't regret reading it, but I also don't regret the fact that this is a book that will go back to the library instead of on my bookshelf at home. It showed such promise in the onset, but in the end, felt like one of those 4th of July firecrackers that is just a dud. A big rocket of light into the sky and then "pffffffszzzzz"--a quiet, empty poof. I am not sure what happened for me here.......I love memoirs, and I love Madhur Jaffrey, so what could go wrong? First of all, I strongly suspect that I would have liked this more had it not come on the heels of two very excellent book club reads, Jeanette Walls "The Glass Castle" and Jhumpa Lahiri's "The Namesake". These works are hard acts to follow for any memoir or book about an Indian family story. Having said this, I found myself frustrated because this book was not introspective enough for me. I always feel that there is a fine line with memoirs, between an author's self-focused indulgence of sharing their own inner process and story versus an external focus on their own memories of people in their lives that the reader doesn't care about. For me, this book suffers from the latter indulgence. To be quite honest, I wanted to learn about Madhur's experiences, thoughts, and feelings....not about her extended family members and what they wore and ate and said. I kept waiting for Madhur's personal story, and it never came. In fairness to the book, it IS exactly what it says......a Memoir OF A CHILDHOOD in India. Unfortunately for readers, this book isn't about the development of her interest in cooking, or the story of meeting her husband or finding her way in life, or growing old......it was about her childhood and her family lore, which left one with the distinct feeling that this book would be far more enjoyable to those who are mentioned in it than it was to me. This book is so WEIRD..... it is the equivalent of Lance Armstrong writing a book about his childhood in which he mentions riding a tricycle one day, but then focuses on anecdotes about his parents and cousins and grandparents. Who cares? I am admittedly disappointed, but am excited about cooking some of the recipes in the back of the book for my book club. In the future, I will stick to Madhur Jaffrey's cookbooks, my favorite of which is "World Vegetarian". On a positive note, I love the photographs interspersed throughout the book. Without them, the reader would truly struggle to even care or keep up with the extended family. Additionally, the recipes in the back are a nice touch. She does such a delightful job reminiscing about the foods they ate, and describing the aromas and flavors, that it is a treat to see that the reader may experience this too. Indeed, this is the real bread and butter of the book for me. (no pun intended!)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Em*bedded-in-books*

    I devoured this book. This was a nostalgic journey through the privileged India of the early twentieth century. I got so engrossed, it was as if I had metamorphosed into the young girl who ran around orchids and kitchens and large rooms, ever inquisitive and all-absorbing. This book has rich descriptions of the food, heritage, lifestyle and architecture of the older India. One amusing thing is that, so far I was under the impression that Madhur Jaffrey is a famous Indian male chef and I was shoc I devoured this book. This was a nostalgic journey through the privileged India of the early twentieth century. I got so engrossed, it was as if I had metamorphosed into the young girl who ran around orchids and kitchens and large rooms, ever inquisitive and all-absorbing. This book has rich descriptions of the food, heritage, lifestyle and architecture of the older India. One amusing thing is that, so far I was under the impression that Madhur Jaffrey is a famous Indian male chef and I was shocked to see the young girl in the various photographs and it was news to me that she had dabbled with the Indian theatre before diverting to cookery and cookbooks. Even now I dont know much about Madhur Jaffrey as the book abruptly ended at her early adulthood. I am eager to know of her further journey. I am planning to Google and find out more about her and I fervently wish she wrote more books (other than cookery books). This book will have a prominent place in my to-read-again shelf.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    I really enjoyed this book. The descriptions of the food and spices were so visceral. However, I was left wanting much much more from this so very capable author. Jaffrey can definitely write and write well, though there were moments of frustration when she would gloss over events that she had been hinting at for the last 100 pages. The prime example is her uncle Shibudada (if I remember the name correctly) and the rift that eventually happened between the uncle and his family and Jaffrey's fami I really enjoyed this book. The descriptions of the food and spices were so visceral. However, I was left wanting much much more from this so very capable author. Jaffrey can definitely write and write well, though there were moments of frustration when she would gloss over events that she had been hinting at for the last 100 pages. The prime example is her uncle Shibudada (if I remember the name correctly) and the rift that eventually happened between the uncle and his family and Jaffrey's family. When she finally spoke of it in the last 5 pages, it was a passing mention. One sentence. Hardly worth the 100 pages of foreshadowing beforehand. Also, the ending was very abrupt and confusing. Jaffrey spent so much time talking about the food and using food as the springboard for her memories, and yet the novel closes with her leaving for drama school. I wanted to know how she discovered cooking and cookbook writing, I honestly could give a hoot about her acting career. In the end, though, the descriptions of the food and her life in India make this a worthwhile read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    A warm and comforting read . I was reminded of my own ancestral home and the variety of dishes I had in my childhood. Loved the chapter construction (small chapters) and the titles of the chapters..

  6. 5 out of 5

    shruti

    We all know Madhur Jaffrey can write a mean cookbook and we all know she can act. But did you know she can write beautiful prose too? This memoir of her childhood is richly evocative, sprinkled with memories of family and food and everything in between. And food, oh the food. Do NOT read this book hungry, it will cause you to arrive at your destination and demand to be fed immediately (not that I did that or anything.)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Aubrey

    This was an unexpectedly delightful breath of fresh air. Much like my most enjoyed Netflix show of the moment, 'Ugly Delicious', this work takes on my recently developed passion for cooking in a way that actually acknowledges the real world, refusing to confine the spectrum of food to a stance wholly white and wholly male. True, the cooking only really came near the end with Jaffrey's litany of recipes, but there was such a wonderful mingling history, family meals, and coming of age in the rest This was an unexpectedly delightful breath of fresh air. Much like my most enjoyed Netflix show of the moment, 'Ugly Delicious', this work takes on my recently developed passion for cooking in a way that actually acknowledges the real world, refusing to confine the spectrum of food to a stance wholly white and wholly male. True, the cooking only really came near the end with Jaffrey's litany of recipes, but there was such a wonderful mingling history, family meals, and coming of age in the rest of the narrative that I never felt that I was missing out on much. Indeed, considering the expense and work that goes into these recipes, I can't see myself having the means to make them any time soon. As such, I feel that I did better to come to Jaffrey without having previously known her for her culinary fame, as I had more of an eye on a holistic memoir than something completely devoted to food. It just goes to show that I haven't completely lost my heart when it comes to the more casual genres of writing. My tastes are just more globally comprehensive than most. India's one of those many countries that I've spent a good amount of time attempting to become familiar with and failing miserably for the most part. Jaffrey's memoir was more of a casual stroll compared to works that I've previously engaged with such as The Discovery of India and Women Writing in India, and so it was rather rewarding to learn about the Mughals and the Partition and the various strains of food collectively known as "Indian" without too much of a struggle. It's a shame that a large portion of this work's audience didn't appreciate this part as much. I suppose they want their chai tea and their naan bread and their tikki masala (I don't think there was even any mention of this last one) without the politics of bloodshed and imperialism that drove such cuisines to become what they are today. For example, if rendered monolinguistic, naan bread and chai tea become, respectively, bread bread and tea tea. India's large enough and old enough to fend for itself these days, but it wouldn't hurt for the average reader ont his site to have a deeper appreciation of what made "curry" powder pup up in the "ethnic" section of their grocery market in the first place. It'd help prevent linguistic tragedies like the ones above, that's for sure. One last thing I want to mention is the surprising and gratifying mention of the artist Amrita Sher-Gil, whose autobiographical compendium I've been on the look out for for some time. It's small shout outs like these that tell me I'm on the right path when it comes to autodidactism beyond the customarily narrow span of things, even if it's as simple as an esoteric name drop in a memoir written by a popular celebrity chef. Food can never be cut off from its origins, however hard white people stuffing quinoa into bahn mi may try, and it's works like these and the show 'Ugly Delicious' that gives food back to the people who worked and sweated and often literally bled to both create edible splendors and, more simply, feed the people. I doubt I'll be able to make Jaffrey's recipes any time soon, but the next time I eat "Indian" food, I'll at least to better appreciate it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    “My grandfather had built his house in what was once a thriving orchard of jujubes, mulberries, tamarinds, and mangoes. His numerous grandchildren, like hungry flocks of birds, attacked the mangoes while they were still green and sour. As grown-ups snored through the hot afternoons in rooms cooled with weeded, sweet-smelling vetiver curtains, the unsupervised children were on every branch of every mango tree, armed with a ground mixture of salt, pepper, red chilies, and roasted cumin.” Is your m “My grandfather had built his house in what was once a thriving orchard of jujubes, mulberries, tamarinds, and mangoes. His numerous grandchildren, like hungry flocks of birds, attacked the mangoes while they were still green and sour. As grown-ups snored through the hot afternoons in rooms cooled with weeded, sweet-smelling vetiver curtains, the unsupervised children were on every branch of every mango tree, armed with a ground mixture of salt, pepper, red chilies, and roasted cumin.” Is your mouth watering yet? Reading Climbing the Mango Trees is as much a culinary expedition as it is a childhood memoir. Madhur Jaffrey’s upbringing as a child of a higher-caste family in India is fascinating for it’s social and historical details, but the icing of the autobiographical cake, has got to be the food. A food writer/actress by profession, Jaffrey knows how to appeal to our all our senses with a flair for entertainment. I enjoyed the stories of her family and her childhood. With her grandparents firmly at the center of the large household, Jaffrey grew up in the same dwelling as aunts, uncles and numerous cousins. As a reader, we get a glimpse of the challenges of navigating the egos of a large family, as well as the cultural and religious differences of her private school classmates. When India becomes an independent state, with a separate Muslim state called Pakistan, those differences have a large impact on India as a whole, and on the young Madhur Jaffrey. It’s these insights that make this memoir especially appealing to me. Her stories, interwoven with her memories of the wonderful meals she enjoyed, make this a delectable read. I’ll have to keep my copy of Climbing the Mango Trees shelved with my cookbooks now because Jaffrey includes over 30 family recipes in the book. I am eager to try them! 3 1/2 stars.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Adina

    I like books about food. I like books about India. and I like a good "growing up in ___" story. But this book didn't really any of these things well. There are many ellipses and allusions when it comes to the real drama. They are taken up but then brushed aside with a description of tomato ginger potatoes. I loved the food description, and even how the culinary tradition of Delhi changed after partition (from dominantly muslim cuisine of the old city to creamy Punjabi). But partition, which she n I like books about food. I like books about India. and I like a good "growing up in ___" story. But this book didn't really any of these things well. There are many ellipses and allusions when it comes to the real drama. They are taken up but then brushed aside with a description of tomato ginger potatoes. I loved the food description, and even how the culinary tradition of Delhi changed after partition (from dominantly muslim cuisine of the old city to creamy Punjabi). But partition, which she notes killed 1 million people, is only touched upon. The riots literally happen a street over but never come to her home. Real drama happens in the other room or is touched upon "they waged a war against my family", she says, ominously, but never details. I suspect there are living people she does not want to offend. It left me hungry for Indian food (yay! there were recipes in the back!) and hungry for more details of the dramas of her life that lead her to leave india, pursue acting, and then become one of the first voices of Indian culinary tradition in the West.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    I liked the idea of this book, a memoir of a childhood in India, but the execution left things to be desired. Ms. Jaffrey grew up in a very wealthy family during the British rule of India and experienced the changeover to Indian self-rule. But many important things were glossed over and instead the focus was an artistic version of her wonderful childhood. It was interesting, but not important. The thing that does stand out in the book is the authors descriptions of food. I really don't have much I liked the idea of this book, a memoir of a childhood in India, but the execution left things to be desired. Ms. Jaffrey grew up in a very wealthy family during the British rule of India and experienced the changeover to Indian self-rule. But many important things were glossed over and instead the focus was an artistic version of her wonderful childhood. It was interesting, but not important. The thing that does stand out in the book is the authors descriptions of food. I really don't have much experience with Indian food, but reading about it made me want to go out and try so many new things!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    Beautiful story of an abnormal childhood in India. Jaffrey's variety of influences is unique and the way she expresses these influences through taste is truly engaging. I learned a lot about foods, history, and Indian culture.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Catullus2

    A fascinating memoir which also serves as a social history of upper-middle class family life during mid century India. The descriptions of food made me hungry!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)

    An enjoyable read with some mouth-watering family recipes (or near equivalents) at the back. I only knew Jaffrey from her cooking programmes of the 1980s on the BBC--and her publishers' penchant for re-issuing the same collection of recipes over and over at ten-year intervals, under different titles and with slight differences in illustrations and front matter. The child of privileged parents of the administrative caste in Delhi, Jaffrey takes us into their world of family compounds, shared meal An enjoyable read with some mouth-watering family recipes (or near equivalents) at the back. I only knew Jaffrey from her cooking programmes of the 1980s on the BBC--and her publishers' penchant for re-issuing the same collection of recipes over and over at ten-year intervals, under different titles and with slight differences in illustrations and front matter. The child of privileged parents of the administrative caste in Delhi, Jaffrey takes us into their world of family compounds, shared meals and festivals, picnics and parties--and food, glorious food. It's interesting that while she enjoyed hanging around in the kitchen and watching it all happen, she never got stuck in and helped out. They had many servants, and yet her mum and aunties did a lot of the cooking to get it all just right. She never seems to have actively participated until after she failed a cooking exam in highschool. And that's what's missing here. We learn absolutely nothing about her adult life, how she became the Madhur Jaffrey of the cooking shows etc. In fact, as autobiographies go, it's very superficial in spots. Partition is touched upon, but we are given the impression that it didn't have much impact on her family. Oh, yes, they were apprehensive and scared, and one of their neighbours was shot dead (!) but the greatest impact on her little world seems to have been the self-segregation of the girls at her school. However, Jaffrey freely admits that in her Hindi composition class she romanced instead of writing the serious compositions required, inventing people she admired, inventing "perfect" summer holidays instead of saying "We stayed in town and hung around devastated by the heat" or whatever. So how much of this autobiography was edited, sanitised, or invented? We are made aware of hostile undercurrents in the extended family (Shibudadda's disastrous marriage and cavalier manipulation of the children's loyalties) but she is content to hint and nod and say no more. I'm not saying I wanted all the gory details, but it shows a certain passive aggression on her own part that she brought it up at all, if she wasn't willing to discuss it. I had hoped to know more about her professional career and move away from India, but the book comes to an abrupt end just as she stands on the brink of adulthood--not rounded but chopped off short. Disappointing.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Brown

    A food-centric memoir of growing up in a huge Indian family in and around Delhi. Jaffrey became a teenager when India got its independence - a time of joy and horror, as the country gained its freedom and then tore itself apart in the violence that came with Partition. But Jaffrey's childhood was more happy than not, despite the presence of a low-key but appalling family rift caused by an uncle's emotional abuse of his own children and favoritism of some of his nieces and nephews. There's not a l A food-centric memoir of growing up in a huge Indian family in and around Delhi. Jaffrey became a teenager when India got its independence - a time of joy and horror, as the country gained its freedom and then tore itself apart in the violence that came with Partition. But Jaffrey's childhood was more happy than not, despite the presence of a low-key but appalling family rift caused by an uncle's emotional abuse of his own children and favoritism of some of his nieces and nephews. There's not a lot of drama but a great deal of humor, well-observed family dynamics, and a wonderful sense of place and time. Jaffrey grew up to a famous food writer, and her memories are full of the scents and tastes and family rituals surrounding food. It's impossible to read without getting hungry. And by relating the food to its role in culture, family history, and personality, the food itself becomes the story. Though she mentions some horrifying accidents and tragedies, albeit in an understated way, the overall mood of the story is one of nostalgia for a flavorful and largely fondly-recalled childhood. Though Jaffrey was something of a misfit, by the end of the book she's beginning to find her own voice and destiny. Amusingly, she never cooks anything good in the entire book - but she eats well, and remembers well. The rest, we know, is history.

  15. 4 out of 5

    thelastword

    I regretted buying this book. The title, cover, and synopsis were all massively deceiving. The story is incoherent and the recipes are so sparse and simple that I felt cheated even though I bought it on sale. The writer could not stop droning on about how proud she was of the particular 'caste' she belongs to. A system that no-one should ever be allowed to talk about with such disturbing relish. At one point she managed a disparaging remark about Hijabis and that was pretty much all we saw about I regretted buying this book. The title, cover, and synopsis were all massively deceiving. The story is incoherent and the recipes are so sparse and simple that I felt cheated even though I bought it on sale. The writer could not stop droning on about how proud she was of the particular 'caste' she belongs to. A system that no-one should ever be allowed to talk about with such disturbing relish. At one point she managed a disparaging remark about Hijabis and that was pretty much all we saw about anything outside of her Hindu 'caste'. Perhaps she appeals to the Indians of India is some way, but if the rest of the world has to judge her by her 'memoir', she sounds like a self-centered racist brat whose never lived beyond the boundaries of her family and her family's house. Because I could not bear to look at this deceiving cover, I donated it to a Library. I regret that too; some poor soul is going to borrow it and be subjected to pages filled with nonsensical rambling and silly recipes. Strictly for her fans or for people with low blood pressure looking for new methods to heighten their blood pressure levels.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Liza

    What on earth... so many favorable reviews. I had to give it one star because there wasn't a BARF option. I'm quite mature and eloquent, I know - no need to respond. This book as concept sounds great - portrait of an extended family living on one compound under a patriarch, during partition and told from the p.o.v. of a foodie (as I understand it, Jaffrey is the Martha Stewart of Indian cookbooks). So far, I'm totally on board. And then I have to read the words as Jaffrey has assembled them and go What on earth... so many favorable reviews. I had to give it one star because there wasn't a BARF option. I'm quite mature and eloquent, I know - no need to respond. This book as concept sounds great - portrait of an extended family living on one compound under a patriarch, during partition and told from the p.o.v. of a foodie (as I understand it, Jaffrey is the Martha Stewart of Indian cookbooks). So far, I'm totally on board. And then I have to read the words as Jaffrey has assembled them and good god... if I ever read another metaphor about 'the taste of honey on my tongue'. Her writing is mechanical, yet flowery. The majority of her paragraphs end with a 'profound' line (ie. "I could even hear the honey on my tongue."). They never felt natural, more like she had built the book outward from a few favored, flowery sentences. The book jacket, paper & typeset are beautiful (and I don't usually go for that sort of thing). For those reasons alone I'll be keeping this book on the shelf.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    Madhur Jaffrey's clear, delicious, and reliable recipes are much loved at our house. The memoir also reflects her talent for clear and evocative writing. Jaffrey vividly conveys pleasures of taste and color. The memoir was frustratingly choppy though. Even the frequently evoked themes of learning and taste didn't quite manage to hold to together fascinating but disparate themes. The chapters usually fell into short chunks that often skimmed across topics that deserved more thorough development. Madhur Jaffrey's clear, delicious, and reliable recipes are much loved at our house. The memoir also reflects her talent for clear and evocative writing. Jaffrey vividly conveys pleasures of taste and color. The memoir was frustratingly choppy though. Even the frequently evoked themes of learning and taste didn't quite manage to hold to together fascinating but disparate themes. The chapters usually fell into short chunks that often skimmed across topics that deserved more thorough development. The personal, child's eye view of Partition, for instance, was potentially powerful but much too brief.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kaye

    For Madhur Jaffrey cooking fans, this is an interesting read, the story of her early life in India. The descriptions of food are especially good, of course, as well as the look at daily life in a well-to-do family. There are some tempting family recipes included. Small sections of the book are quite chatty and read nicely, but the book doesn't hang together. It feels like scraps of writing hastily thrown together. An editor to help with the structure and a proofreader to help with typos and gram For Madhur Jaffrey cooking fans, this is an interesting read, the story of her early life in India. The descriptions of food are especially good, of course, as well as the look at daily life in a well-to-do family. There are some tempting family recipes included. Small sections of the book are quite chatty and read nicely, but the book doesn't hang together. It feels like scraps of writing hastily thrown together. An editor to help with the structure and a proofreader to help with typos and grammar errors would have been appreciated.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    After coming to the near-end of chapter seven and still not finding the story compelling, I have decided to stop climbing the mango trees. I rarely stop reading a book with the intention of never picking it up again but I don't think I will continue this one. If you have read it and think I should keep going, let me know! It was interesting to read about the lives of wealthy Indians, as so many stories focus on the tragic poor of that nation. The family was sweet and the food references were fun. After coming to the near-end of chapter seven and still not finding the story compelling, I have decided to stop climbing the mango trees. I rarely stop reading a book with the intention of never picking it up again but I don't think I will continue this one. If you have read it and think I should keep going, let me know! It was interesting to read about the lives of wealthy Indians, as so many stories focus on the tragic poor of that nation. The family was sweet and the food references were fun. For now, I will look for mangoes in greener orchards.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sofia

    An entertaining glimpse into Brahmin Indian life with, as expected, a dominant interplay of food. What a period to have grown up in India - the time of Partition - and what a lifestyle - picnics of 50 caravanning with servants to the hill country; extensive, planned gardens with flowers, fruits and vegetables galore; private performances of music, dance and theater... And as expected, the traditional, multi-generation, extended-family living virtually together with the resulting joys and complex An entertaining glimpse into Brahmin Indian life with, as expected, a dominant interplay of food. What a period to have grown up in India - the time of Partition - and what a lifestyle - picnics of 50 caravanning with servants to the hill country; extensive, planned gardens with flowers, fruits and vegetables galore; private performances of music, dance and theater... And as expected, the traditional, multi-generation, extended-family living virtually together with the resulting joys and complexities.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Toni

    Madhur Jaffrey wrote a thoroughly enjoyable memoir of a privileged childhood in 1930's and 40's India. Along with that she provided a brief but concise history of the partition of India that I was only vaguely familiar with and appreciated for her insight. As an added bonus, Ms Jaffrey has included many recipes for dishes she not only grew up eating, but that symbolize authentic Indian cuisine.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Evelyn Puerto

    Written by a food writer, Climbing the Mango Trees paints a vivid picture of growing up in India. I could almost smell the food cooking. Unlike many other memoirs, there doesn’t seem to be an overall theme. Rather, the book just covers the author’s memories. However, the vivid writing brought back my own memories of India and gave a wonderful look at everyday life.

  23. 5 out of 5

    jim

    after 30 pages already in love with this memoir. the author is a well known food and cookbook writer. she shares a unique childhood of life in Delhi and the memories that food can evoke. stunning, beautifully written, and i must go out now for some indian food...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jubilado

    This is an interesting description of a wealthy upbringing in India and of the experience of partition for a child. There are many references to food and recipes at the end. I missed any mention of India's poor.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    A perfect gem of a book; a small, glittering evocation of India by way of the memories of food, flavor and fragrance. Gorgeous!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sorento62

    A pleasant read. Different than many books about India because it is not Punjabi and not about the poor. It is about a girl growing up in a large extended family of the intellectual caste.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    I probably should have been aware of Madhur Jaffrey before now, but I’m not much of a cook and haven’t seen any of the films in which she appeared. Nevertheless, this is a fascinating memoir, presenting yet another side of India. Jaffrey was born in 1933, into a very prosperous and educated Hindu family who prospered both under the Moghuls and in British India. As the subtitle says, this is a memoir about her childhood, ending with her late adolescence. This is not an introspective memoir, but an I probably should have been aware of Madhur Jaffrey before now, but I’m not much of a cook and haven’t seen any of the films in which she appeared. Nevertheless, this is a fascinating memoir, presenting yet another side of India. Jaffrey was born in 1933, into a very prosperous and educated Hindu family who prospered both under the Moghuls and in British India. As the subtitle says, this is a memoir about her childhood, ending with her late adolescence. This is not an introspective memoir, but an account of life among a specific family and segment of Indian society at a particular time. The time included the horrific violence of partition. But although she doesn’t downplay that event, it’s a minor part of her book - as I’m sure it was a minor part of her life. Instead, she writes about living in close proximity to a large extended family (with strife alluded to, but not explicated), about childhood games on the extensive family property, about her schools and friends (I CERTAINLY wouldn’t have wanted to write the final exams she describes) and - not surprisingly - about food. I challenge anyone to read this book, and the recipe section at the back, without both getting hungry and becoming envious of the delicious cuisine on which she was raised.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Unwisely

    This was one of those books that really pulled you into the setting, which was India before (and after) partition. Not a place I knew anything about, but I could really see it after reading this book. There's lots of food in this book, but almost no cooking (there are some recipes at the end). That bit was kind of surprising to me. Also the book just sort of ended, with almost a Larry McMurtry or Snow Crash suddenness. But overall very interesting and readable. A great experience of elsewhen, an This was one of those books that really pulled you into the setting, which was India before (and after) partition. Not a place I knew anything about, but I could really see it after reading this book. There's lots of food in this book, but almost no cooking (there are some recipes at the end). That bit was kind of surprising to me. Also the book just sort of ended, with almost a Larry McMurtry or Snow Crash suddenness. But overall very interesting and readable. A great experience of elsewhen, and made me want whatever she was eating. Mmm.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    Interesting, sometimes funny, often mouth-watering, Madhur Jaffrey's memories in this book encompass her childhood and youth in Delhi with her very large family. Not only did I learn about making some of the dishes she remembers (recipes are included), but there is also the interwoven history of Delhi's multicultural makeup before and after India's independence. Turns out most of what I think of as "Indian food" is specifically Punjabi cuisine that became popular in Delhi after an influx of refu Interesting, sometimes funny, often mouth-watering, Madhur Jaffrey's memories in this book encompass her childhood and youth in Delhi with her very large family. Not only did I learn about making some of the dishes she remembers (recipes are included), but there is also the interwoven history of Delhi's multicultural makeup before and after India's independence. Turns out most of what I think of as "Indian food" is specifically Punjabi cuisine that became popular in Delhi after an influx of refugees from Punjabi Pakistan. Jaffrey also talks about her family, their habits and characters, and her early acting experiences.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Janis

    Though it was interesting to learn about Jaffrey’s early life as a girl growing up in an extended Hindu family in India, I was somewhat disappointed by this memoir. Hers is a life far from any I know, so I enjoyed the glimpses offered, but felt occasionally impatient as she lingered over certain details, and unsatisfied in the overall arc. She alludes to incidents yet fails to follow through, and the tale ends rather abruptly. I know Jaffrey as a cookbook author and, though her descriptions of m Though it was interesting to learn about Jaffrey’s early life as a girl growing up in an extended Hindu family in India, I was somewhat disappointed by this memoir. Hers is a life far from any I know, so I enjoyed the glimpses offered, but felt occasionally impatient as she lingered over certain details, and unsatisfied in the overall arc. She alludes to incidents yet fails to follow through, and the tale ends rather abruptly. I know Jaffrey as a cookbook author and, though her descriptions of meals enjoyed by her family are enticing, she gives no clue as to how she eventually headed on this career path.

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