Madhur Jaffrey

Libby Lewis Photography

Madhur Jaffrey

Past Event: Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Literary Arts Icon

Literary Arts

Regarded by many as the world authority on Indian food, Delhi-born Madhur Jaffrey is an award-winning actress and bestselling cookbook author.

When Madhur Jaffrey released her first cookbook, An Invitation to Indian Cooking, back in 1973, she wrote, “Some day, I hope, books will be written about all of India’s cuisines: Gujarati food, Malayali food, Assamese food, Punjabi food, Maharashtrian food, Sindhi food, Bengali food, Goan food, Kashmiri food, Hyderabadi food, to name just a few.” This dream was a long time coming. Born in Delhi, but living in London while attending England’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, she was dismayed by the “standardized, homogenized, mollified Indian food” she found being served there. Although Jaffrey was studying to be an actress (she first won acclaim playing a diva-esque Bollywood star in the 1965 Merchant Ivory movie Shakespeare Wallah), she also knew she had recreate the Indian dishes she missed so badly in England, and to bring the cuisine in all its many forms and flavors to the West.

Despite not knowing how to make rice when she started out, she began cooking and never stopped. Since An Invitation to Indian Cooking, she has written over 15 cookbooks, many of them bestsellers and some winning James Beard Foundation awards. A formidable actress, she has also appeared in over 20 films, including Merchant Ivory’s Heat and Dust. She is also the author of Climbing The Mango Trees, a memoir of growing up in India.  In 20004, she was named an honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire, in recognition of her services to cultural relations between the United Kingdom, India and the United States, through her achievements in film, television and cuisine.