Indians Abroad

Madhur Jaffrey

Famous As Actress and Food Writer
Born On 13 August 1933
Born In Delhi, India
Nationality Indian

Actor, journalist, illustrator, cookbook author and restaurateur, Madhur Jaffrey is one of the most multifaceted Indian personalities who have earned distinction mainly as a food writer. With as many as 29 cookbooks and a slew of cookery shows to her name, it's easy to assume that Jaffrey always longed for a career in the kitchen. But, that isn't the case. Madhur Jaffrey began her career as an actor and later went on to dabble with TV production, theater and cooking, before she established herself as a cookery book writer. She appeared in several Merchant Ivory films, portraying strong and powerful characters on the silver screen. Broadway always fascinated Madhur and that was one reason why she pulled off a great feat with her stage shows like 'The Guide', 'Conduct Unbecoming' and 'Bombay Dreams'. However, destiny had different plans for her. In the following years, this gourmet food goddess went on to garner great applause as a cookery book writer, both in India and abroad. She is deemed responsible for introducing an array of diverse Indian cuisine to the Western world through her recipe books. At the age of 77, she still juggles with her multifarious roles of a wife, mother, actor and writer with elan.

Early Life
Born as Madhur Bahadur in Delhi (then a part of British India), she grew up in a large family and had an unusual childhood. Free-minded, sensitive, and very inquisitive, Madhur was well endowed with a fine taste of art and a sharp mind that made her formative years nothing short of an experience as evident in her memoir "Climbing The Mango Trees: A Memoir Of A Childhood In India.". She received her formal education at Miranda House after which she went on to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art at London. She graduated in the year 1957. As a child, Madhur grew up in an Anglo-Indian society where society was orthodox, and the Indians were still under the British colony. This had much influence on her upbringing. Nevertheless, she overcame all odds, thanks to her parents who with their endless support and encouragement drove her towards her ambitions.

After graduating from Miranda House, Madhur took up a job with All India Radio and worked there for a brief period. In 1965, she moved to New York. Madhur was an aspiring actor herself, and having married to a well-known actor like Saeed Jaffrey, she had the good fortune of meeting many like-minded people. Madhur collaborated with James Ivory and Ismail Merchant for films like 'The Guru', 'Autobiography of a Princess', 'Heat and Dust', and 'The Perfect Murder'. Her role in Merchant Ivory's film, 'Shakespeare Wallah' proved her mettle as an actor and won her several recognition and awards. Madhur was felicitated with the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 15th Berlin International Film Festival. In 1999, she featured as the main protagonist in the film 'Cotton Mary', which she had co-directed with Ismail. Meanwhile, Madhur worked in a few Hollywood movies like 'Six Degrees of Separation', 'Vanya on 42nd Street', and 'Prime'. Madhur wanted to make her presence felt through various mediums to reach out to a larger audience and that is when she decided to do television. In 1999, Madhur played a cameo in 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit'. However, her passion for acting landed her in the Broadway where she played consequential roles in plays like 'A Tenth of an Inch Makes the Difference', 'The Guide', 'Conduct Unbecoming', and 'Bombay Dreams'. However, she realized her real calling when her passion for food slowly began to get the better of her. Madhur never really entered the kitchen as a child and almost failed in cooking at school. It was only when she moved to London to study she grew fond of cooking. Madhur has hosted an impressive number of cookery shows on television, including 'Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery', 'Madhur Jaffrey's Far Eastern Cookery', and 'Madhur Jaffrey's Flavors of India'. She also published a slew of books that garnered great fan following both in India and abroad and won her James Beard Foundation Awards. Due to the success of her culinary skills, she developed a line of her own sauces to simplify India cooking for amateurs. Besides this, she has also lent a few recipes to the restaurant "Dawat" located in Manhattan.

Awards and Achievements
She has won several awards for her contributions in films and television. She won the best actor award in the Berlin Film Festival in 1965 for her brilliant feat in 'Shakespeare Wallah'. Apart from this, she has received the Taraknath Das Foundation Award, Muse Award and several other honorary awards, marking her contribution in the realms of television, film and food.

Personal Life
Madhur was first married to Saeed Jaffrey and the couple had three children together, namely Meera, Zia and Sakina Jaffrey. Unfortunately, Saeed and Madhur divorced in 1965 and three years later, she married Sanford Allen, a violinist in New York orchestra.

Time Line
1933: She was born in Delhi, India.
1957: Madhur graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London
1965: She won the best actress awards from Berlin Film Festival
1965: Madhur and Saeed divorced
1969: Madhur married Sanford Allen
1986: She began to train and supervise the chefs at Dawat
1993: Was awarded the Taraknath Das Foundation Award
2000: Muse Award from New York Women in Film & Television was also received by her.