Climbing the Mango Trees

A Memoir of a Childhood in India

Publisher: Vintage
Whether acclaimed food writer Madhur Jaffrey was climbing the mango trees in her grandparents' orchard in Delhi or picnicking in the Himalayan foothills on meatballs stuffed with raisins and mint, tucked into freshly baked spiced pooris, today these childhood pleasures evoke for her the tastes and textures of growing up.

This memoir is both an enormously appealing account of an unusual childhood and a testament to the power of food to prompt memory, vividly bringing to life a lost time and place. Included here are recipes for more than thirty delicious dishes that are recovered from Jaffrey’s childhood.


Ground Lamb with Peas (Keema Matar)
Serves 4–6

I cannot imagine our picnics or train rides in India without this dish. For my grandchildren, growing up in America, it is an all-time favorite. Sometimes we eat it with pooris, the deep-fried puffed breads, as we did so often in India...
Read More


“Wistful, funny and tremendously satisfying. . . . Jaffrey's taste memories sparkle with enthusiasm, and her talent for conveying them makes the book relentlessly appetizing.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Do not attempt to read [this] mouth-wateringly evocative memoir on an empty stomach. . . . A delicious tribute to a deeply rooted, multicultural upbringing.”

“A sharp observer with a pleasing eye for sensual detail, Jaffrey weaves a richly textured story in which she effortlessly mingles quotidian drams with historic events.”
People Magazine

"Her story reads like a novel and evokes images worthy of a Merchant-Ivoryproduction. You can practically taste sun warmed mangoes plucked from the tree, the barley-sugar candy that holds a hallowed place in the author's memory."
The Seattle Times