Madhur is an Indian actress and food writer who introduced the Western world to the many cuisines of India.
Madhur Jaffrey was born in Delhi and came to London aged 19 to study drama at RADA and pursue her passion for acting. It was here that she learnt to cook, effectively by correspondence: while in London, she desperately missed home-cooked food, so her mother would send her recipes.
Madhur acted in TV, film and radio productions in England, then headed to New York, where she wrote food articles to supplement her income and fund her children’s education. This foray into food writing led to hugely successful books and accompanying TV programmes, made popular due to Madhur’s straight-talking approach.
She is said to have been responsible for introducing James Ivory and Ismail Merchant. She appeared in a number of their earlier films: Shakespeare Wallah (1965) (a role for which she won the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 15th Berlin International Film Festival), The Guru (1969), Autobiography of a Princess (1976), Heat and Dust (1983), directed by Ivory, and The Perfect Murder (1988). She starred as the title character in their film Cotton Mary (1999) and co-directed it with Merchant.
She was the recipient of the Best Actress Award from the Berlin Film Festival in 1965 for her performance in Shakespeare Wallah.
Madhur received the Taraknath Das Foundation Award presented by the Taraknath Das Foundation of the Southern Asian Institute of Columbia University in 1993.
She has appeared in Six Degrees of Separation (1993), Vanya on 42nd Street (1994) and Prime (2005). She starred in and produced ABCD (1999) and guest-starred in the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode “Name” as a psychiatrist, and the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode “The Healer” as a lecturer.
In 1999, she appeared with daughter Sakina Jaffrey in the film Chutney Popcorn.
In 2003, she played Roshan Seth’s wife in Cosmopolitan, a film broadcast on PBS.
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She recieved her Honorary CBE awarded on 11 October 2004 “in recognition of her services to cultural relations between the United Kingdom, India and the United States, through her achievements in film, television and cookery”.