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Climbing the Mango Trees

'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 to draw up my horoscope, he scribbled astrological symbols on a long scroll, and set down a name for me, Indrani, or "queen of the heavens". My father ignored him completely and proclaimed my name was to be Madhur ("sweet as honey").' So begins Madhur Jaffrey's enchanting memoir of her childhood in India. Her description of growing up a in a very large, wealthy family (half a train was booked to transport the family from Delhi to the mountains for the summer) conjures up the spirit of a long lost age. Whether climbing the mango trees in her grandparents' orchard, armed with a mixture of salt, pepper, red chillies, and roasted cumin, or enjoying picnics in the foothills of the Himalayas, reached by foot, rickshaw, palanquin or horse, where meatballs stuffed with sultanas and mint leaves, cauliflowers flavoured with ginger and coriander, and spiced pooris with hot green mango pickle were devoured, food forms a major leitmotiv of this beautifully written memoir. With recipes drawn from memories of dinners, lunches, breakfasts, weddings, and picnics, moving effortlessly from the lamb meatballs of Moghul emperors to the tamarind chutneys of the streets, this book will appeal to keen armchair cooks, as well as fans of Madhur the world over.
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Richly evocative memoir of childhood, filled with the tastes of India, by bestselling cookery writer


About the Author

Now regarded by many as the world authority on Indian food, Madhur Jaffrey is an award-winning actress and bestselling cookery author. Her first book, An Invitation to Indian Cookery, was published in 1973 and her series for BBC television Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery made her a household name. She has appeared in over 20 films, including Merchant Ivory's Heat and Dust, and written over 15 cookery books, including Madhur Jaffrey's Ultimate Curry Bible (2003), published by Ebury Press.


Readers will be surprised to learn in this culinary memoir that Jaffrey (An Invitation to Indian Cooking), one of the best-known writers on Indian cuisine, actually failed home economics. Although she later learned to prepare the traditional Indian food of her childhood, her early culinary education was primarily concerned with outdated recipes from British colonial days. What is not surprising is that Jaffrey, a descendant of a long line of record-keeping Kayastha Hindus, is a gifted and generous writer. She shares treasured recollections of how her close-knit family lived in Delhi, conveying the safety and warmth of the presence of many siblings and cousins, the love of food and learning, and the unease and disturbance of the partition of India and Pakistan. Thirty-seven photographs of the author and her family are scattered throughout. There are more than 30 family recipes, including Phulkas (a kind of Indian flatbread), Mung Bean Fritters, and Ground Lamb Samosas, all written in Jaffrey's easy style. Highly recommended for all public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/06.]-Rosemarie Lewis, Broward Cty. P.L., Ft. Lauderdale, FL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

The celebrated actress and author of several books on Indian cooking turns her attention to her own childhood in Delhi and Kampur. Born in 1933 as one of six children of a prosperous businessman, Jaffrey grew up as part of a huge "joint family" of aunts, uncles and cousins-often 40 at dinner-under the benign but strict thumb of Babaji, her grandfather and imperious family patriarch. It was a privileged and cosmopolitan family, influenced by Hindu, Muslim and British traditions, and though these were not easy years in India, a British ally in WWII and soon to go though the agony of partition (the separation and formation of Muslim Pakistan), Jaffrey's graceful prose and sure powers of description paint a vivid landscape of an almost enchanted childhood. Her family and friends, the bittersweet sorrows of puberty, the sensual sounds and smells of the monsoon rain, all are remembered with love and care, but nowhere is her writing more evocative than when she details the food of her childhood, which she does often and at length. Upon finishing this splendid memoir, the reader will delight in the 30 "family-style" recipes included as lagniappe at the end. Photos. (Oct. 11) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"Memoirs don't come much more mouthwatering than this" * You Magazine * "'...looks to be a real treat. It will appeal to the legion of Madhur Jaffrey fans and to armchair cooks everywhere with its evocative story'" * The Bookseller * "With the sparkle of a true storyteller, Madhur Jaffrey leads the reader through her childhood in India with enchanting warmth and grace....Recollections of her vast family's changing relationships....are told through vivid colours, rich flavours of spice and sweetness, and intense smells, textures, sounds and feelings. Those who like getting their teeth into a good biography will be pleased to receive this" * Easy Living * "Enchanting...redolent of spices and the smells of cooking all under the Indian sun" * Daily Express *

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