A Memoir of a Childhood in India by Madhur Jaffrey
You will most likely know Ms Jeffrey through her Indian Cookery TV series which ran on the BBC in the 1980′s, or perhaps through her spicily comprehensive Ultimate Curry Bible.
In this delightful paperback Ms Jeffrey will introduce you to a more intimate aspect of her being, with recollections of her childhood as a “privileged product of British colonial India”. As only a renowned authority on food could do, Ms Jeffrey recalls in intricate detail the subtleties of ceremonial feasts, everyday family meals, school lunches shared with friends and all the dishes in between, all the way to mountain family picnics.
You will be sure to marvel at the food delights, and crave every single meal mentioned (excepting the Muslim-inspired meat dishes if you’re a vegetarian!), and Ms Jeffrey does you the courtesy of providing 32 family recipes for you to satisfy the desire she sparks with her remarkable recollections.
The book, however, is much more than a recipe book, or indeed a record of the food eaten by the privileged Delhi residents mid 20th Century: it provides a surprisingly clear picture of a large, wealthy Hindu family influenced by the Moghuls, the Raj and Coca Cola! As we cry down the evils of the Coca-Cola empire, Ms Jeffrey recalls the lure of the “sophisticated” West, and you will most certainly appreciate the irony of it all, as you seek some of the East’s spiritual simplicity.
The book contains too many delightful anecdotes to mention, with appetising chapter sub-headings such as “Goddess or Sweet as Honey” ; “The Magic Garden” ; The Quest for Barley Sugar” ; “Winter Evenings: Family, Friends, Lemonade, Nuts and Pakoris” ; The Taste of Ecstasy”, all leading you deeper into the multi-faceted lives of 30 or so strong family.
A Privileged Setting
You will gain a great understanding of what growing up in that privileged setting was like for this girl who knew she was destined for something of a special, and different life. Your insight into the nurturing, healing properties of Indian food will be enhanced, and if you know little of India pre-partition, you will gain just an inkling of its enormous implications on the population.
This is one of the most enjoyable books I’ve ever read, and I heartily recommend it to everyone – especially if, like me, you have ever been convinced that you “belonged in another world”.
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