Madhur Jaffrey was born in Delhi, India. She graduated from Queen Mary’s Higher Secondary School and then majored in English literature at Miranda House, graduating with the highest marks in the entire Delhi University.
Next, she worked both at All India Radio, Delhi as an announcer, disc jockey and actress and on the local stage. She won several scholarships that landed her at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and earned her a Diploma with Honours.
Miss Jaffrey then came to the United States, appearing in several Off-Broadway plays such as A Tenth of an Inch makes the Difference while making a living working as a Guide at the UN. She went on to make short films, such as The Antkeeper, for NBC and then, after introducing Ismail Merchant and James Ivory to each other, returned to India to star in Merchant Ivory’s Shakespearewallah.
Around this time, Miss Jaffrey’s life bifurcated and she began to develop an equally illustrious career in the world of cookery and children’s books. Her best-selling cook books, food articles and TV cookery series include An Invitation to Indian Cooking, World-of-the-East-Vegetarian Cooking, Taste of India, Taste of the Far East, Quick and Easy Indian Cooking, Flavors of India, World Vegetarian, From Curries to Kebabs, Climbing the Mango Trees, and the BBC/Public Television’s Indian Cookery, Taste of the Far East and Flavours of India, The Curry Bible and Curry Easy.s These books, TV series and articles have won many awards in the U.S, including several James Beard Awards, the IACP award and in the UK, the Glenfiddich and Food Writer’s Guild Awards.
Her children’s books include Seasons of Splendour and Robi Dobi, the Marvellous Adventures of an Indian Elephant, the latter winning the Parent’s Choice, Silver Honor.
Miss Jaffrey’s stage appearances include Medea and Last Dance at Dum Dum in London and The Guide, Conduct Unbecoming, and Bombay Dreams on Broadway in New York. On TV, she has appeared in two very popular British series, Firm Friends and EastEnders. Her films include The Guru, Autobiography of a Princess with James Mason, Heat and Dust with Greta Scacchi, Assam Garden with Deborah Kerr, Flawless with Robert DeNiro, Vanya on Forty Second Street with Wallace Shawn, Six Degrees of Separation with Donald Sutherland, Chutney Popcorn, ABCD, Cotton Mary, Cosmopolitan and Prime with Meryl Streep.
Miss Jaffrey has been called the “Julia Child of Indian Cookery”, “Scheherazade of the kitchen” and “Star of Screen and Cuisine.” Her honors include the Silver Bear, Best Actress Award at the Berlin International Film Festival, Columbia University’s Tarakhnath Das Award for Indo-American understanding through cooking and acting, Governor George Pataki’s Award for Excellence for changing America through her work in acting and cookery, New York Women in Film and Television’s Muse Award for Outstanding Vision and Achievement and a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) from Queen Elizabeth II for her services to drama and the promotion of Indian food and culture.