Madhur Jaffrey CBE (née Bahadur; born 13 August 1933) is an Indian-born actress, food and travel writer, and television personality. She is recognized for bringing Indian cuisine to the western hemisphere with her debut cookbook, An Invitation to Indian Cooking (1973), which was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Cookbook Hall of Fame in 2006. She has written over a dozen cookbooks and appeared on several related television programmes, the most notable of which was Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery, which premiered in the UK in 1982. She is the food consultant at Dawat, considered by many food critics to be among the best Indian restaurants in New York City.She was instrumental in bringing together filmmakers James Ivory and Ismail Merchant and acted in several of their films such as Shakespeare Wallah (1965), for which she won the Silver Bear for Best Actress award at the 15th Berlin International Film Festival. She has appeared in dramas on radio, stage and television.In 2004, she was named an honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) 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.Her childhood memoir of India during the final years of the British Raj, Climbing the Mango Trees, was published in 2006.
Jaffrey was born in Civil Lines, Delhi, into a Mathur Kayastha Hindu joint family. She is the fifth of six children of Lala Raj Bans Bahadur (1899–1974) and his wife, Kashmiran Rani (1903–1971). Madhur's grandfather, Rai Bahadur Raj Narain (1864–1950), had built a sprawling family compound, named Number 7 Raj Narain Marg, by the Yamuna river amid fruit orchards.When Madhur was about 2 years old, her father accepted a position in a family-run concern, Ganesh Flour Mills, and moved to Kanpur as the manager of a vanaspati ghee factory there. In Kanpur, Madhur attended St. Mary's Convent school along with her elder sisters, Lalit and Kamal. In kindergarten at the age of 5, she played the role of the brown mouse in a musical version of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. The family lived in Kanpur for 8 years until her grandfather's deteriorating health caused a move back to Delhi in 1944.In Delhi, Madhur attended Queen Mary's Higher Secondary School where her history teacher, Mrs McKelvie, encouraged her to participate in school plays. Madhur played the role of Titania in William Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream followed by the lead role in Robin Hood and His Merry Men. Madhur's brothers, Brij Bans Bahadur and Krishen Bans Bahadur, who were much older than her, were enrolled in St. Stephen's College, Delhi. Every winter, St. Stephen's students put on a Shakespearean play that Madhur would watch avidly from the front row.A supporter of Mahatma Gandhi's demand for Indian independence from British rule, Madhur spent some time each day spinning khadi and delivered several large spools of thread to a central collection center in Delhi.In 1947, Madhur experienced first-hand the effects of the partition of India. At school, her classmates split into two on the issue of partition; the Muslim girls supported the idea while the Hindus were against it. On August 15 she watched the transfer of power at India Gate and got a clear glimpse of Jawaharlal Nehru and Lord Mountbatten coming down Rajpath in an open horse carriage. The massive multi-directional migration that began almost immediately afterwards caused riots and killing in Delhi. The male members of her family guarded their house with guns that they had previously used only for hunting game. At school, all her Muslim classmates left without a farewell. In 1948, a few days before Mahatma Gandhi was shot dead, she attended one of his prayer meetings at Birla House and sang bhajans. She heard the news of his assassination on the radio, followed by Jawaharlal Nehru's address later that night, "the light has gone out of our lives, and there is darkness everywhere." She saw Gandhi's funeral procession at Rajpath and witnessed his cremation at Rajghat.At home, Madhur's family primarily ate food prepared by servants but supervised by the ladies of the family. They occasionally indulged in Mughlai cuisine bought in the bylanes of Old Delhi, like bedmi aloo, seekh kebab, shami kebab, rumali roti and bakarkhani. Refugees from Punjab who settled in Delhi after partition brought their own style of cooking. Moti Mahal, a dhaba in Daryaganj, introduced tandoori chicken and then went on to invent butter chicken and dal makhani. Madhur found Punjabi food's simplicity and freshness very enticing and routinely picked up tandoori food from Moti Mahal for family picnics.At school, the subject of domestic science included learning dishes like blancmange, whose bland taste drove Madhur to dismiss the cookery lessons as preparing "British invalid foods from circa 1930". However, at the time of the practical examination, her class was asked to make a dish from an assortment of potatoes, tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger and Indian spices in a pot over wood to be lit with matches. Madhur did her best but guessed that she failed the subject of domestic science altogether.Madhur and her cousins would regularly answer summons from the nearby All India Radio station for parts in radio plays or children's programs. As she was paid a small fee for each session, Madhur considered this to be her first professional work.Meanwhile, Madhur's father had moved to Daurala as general manager of Daurala Sugar Works, a factory owned by family friends, the Shri Ram family. Madhur, along with her brothers, her younger sister, Veena, and her mother remained behind in Delhi in to avoid disrupting the children's education. During this period, Madhur's elder sisters were at boarding school in Nainital. In the letters that they exchanged with their siblings and cousins at Delhi, they addressed each other only by their initials. This tradition cemented over time so that Madhur became M for her circle of close friends and family. Madhur's father eventually returned from Daurala and joined Delhi Cloth Mills, a textile factory owned by the Shri Ram family.
Movies & TV shows
1 Movie · 1 TV show
Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi
Host Padma Lakshmi takes audiences on a journey across America, exploring the rich and diverse food culture of various immigrant groups, seeking out the people who have so heavily shaped what American...
Gloria Steinem is an equal rights activist. She was involved in the women's rights movement in the U.S. Steinem has made a mark on modern history. A chronicle of a life that was atypical.
1 TV show
The members of the Doom Patrol suffered terrible accidents that left them scarred and damaged. The Chief brought the team together to investigate strange phenomena and protect Earth from what they fin...
1 TV show
I Feel Bad
Emet is a perfect mom, boss, wife, friend and daughter. She's not perfect. Like the rest of us, she's figuring it out. She feels bad if she has a sexy dream about someone other than her husband, if sh...
James Beard: America's First Foodie
Food in the 21st century has become much more than “meat and potatoes” and canned soup casseroles.” Chefs have gained celebrity status; recipes and exotic ingredients, once impossible to find, are now...
The comedy is about two brothers falling out. The family recipe book is torn in half at the end of the dispute, with one brother getting the starter and the other the main courses. They tried to out-d...
A Late Quartet
When the beloved cellist of a world-famous string quartet is diagnosed with a life threatening illness, the group's future suddenly hangs in the balance as suppressed emotions, competing egos and unco...
1 TV show
Jessica Day is an offbeat and adorable girl in her late 20s who, after a bad break up, moves in with three single guys. Jess has faith in people even when she shouldn't. She's comfortable in her own s...
Phoebe in Wonderland
The tale of a little girl who won't follow the rules. Confounded by her conflicts with the rule-obsessed world around her, Phoebe seeks enlightenment from her unconventional drama teacher, even as her...
In order to leave the ravages of war behind, 38 year old Gian Singh resigned from the British Indian Army. He finds himself responsible for the life of a 17 year old girl who was separated from her fa...
1 TV show
Shawn Spencer spent his childhood developing a keen eye for detail thanks to his police officer father's efforts. Shawn was wrongly accused of a crime he solved because of his frequent tips to the pol...
A single bachelor, an oddly attractive neighbor and a popular women's magazine are the ingredients of this delicious romance that pays homage to classic Bollywood cinema while spinning a unique modern...
'Grasp' is a darkly humorous mystery peppered with some truly surreal visuals. Two hard-boiled detectives and an oddball pathologist investigate a severed hand found in a laundromat - and the results ...
1 Movie · 1 TV show
Reena is an Indian American lesbian who lives and works in New York. Her sister, who is happily married, discovers that she is infertile. Reena wants to improve her relationship with their mother, who...
Law & Order: Criminal Intent
The third iteration of the "Law & Order" franchise takes viewers deep into the minds of its criminals while following the intense psychological approaches the Major Case Squad uses to solve its crimes...
3 Movies · 1 TV show
The only goal of an ageing Indian-American widow is to see her son and rebellious daughter (described as an American Born Confused Desi or ABCD) married off to respectable Indian families.
A British family is trapped between tradition and culture.
An ultraconservative police officer with a stroke is assigned to a program that includes singing lessons with a drag queen.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Sexually-based offenses are considered heinous in the criminal justice system. In New York City, the detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the Specia...
Publisher Will Randall becomes a werewolf and has to fight to keep his job.
Vanya on 42nd Street
A group of actors played Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. The theater has a crumbling ceiling and stage. The play has briefest of breaks to move props or refreshments. The lack of props and costumes is quickly ...
The Perfect Murder
A police inspector and his wife live in Bombay. He has worked for the Bombay Police for a long time. He is assigned to investigate the murder of a Parsi man named Perfect, who is the Secretary of a we...
Raja is secretly in love with a woman. When he comes to live with his grandmother, he falls in love with her. He reciprocates his love as well. Raja was devastated by this turn of events. Kamladevi pu...
The Assam Garden
An aggressive widow of a tea garden manager befriends an Indian housewife and her family.
Autobiography of a Princess
On the birthday of her late father, a deposed Maharaja, a displaced Indian princess living in London and his former private secretary watch home movies and reminisce about royal India.
This classic from Rolf Forsberg, in the style of Fellini and Bergman, tells the story of a gardener who decides to introduce ants to his garden, because they will benefit what grows there. He is distu...
The story of a family troupe of English actors who travel around India giving performances of Shakespearean plays. As they travel through India, they see the changing face of the country, as the old i...