Madhur Jaffrey

29th annual Key West Literary Seminar

—The Hungry Muse: An Exploration of Food in Literature—

January 6 - 16, 2011

Madhur Jaffrey was born in Delhi, India, and graduated from Queen Mary’s Higher Secondary School, Miranda House, and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Jaffrey then came to the United States, appearing in several Off-Broadway plays such as A Tenth of an Inch Makes the Difference while working as a guide at the United Nations. She went on to make short films including 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 Shakespeare-Wallah.

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 series have led to her being called “the Julia Child of Indian Cooking.” They include An Invitation to Indian Cooking, inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Cookbook Hall of Fame in 2006, World of the East: Vegetarian Cooking, Taste of India, Taste of the Far East, and World Vegetarian, From Curries to Kebabs, and the BBC/Public Television’s Indian Cookery, Taste of the Far East, and Flavours of India.

Jaffrey’s 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. Her stage appearances include Medea andLast Dance at Dum Dum in London and The GuideConduct 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 Autobiography of a Princess with James Mason, Flawless with Robert DeNiro, Six Degrees of Separation with Donald Sutherland, andPrime with Meryl Streep.

Jaffrey has earned an extraordinary array of awards for her work in various fields. As a writer, these include seven James Beard Awards, the International Association of Culinary Professionals award for Journalism, and the Glenfiddich and Food Writer’s Guild Awards. She has also won 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 Commander of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth II for her services to drama and the promotion of Indian food and culture.

Jaffrey’s most recent book is Climbing the Mango Trees, a widely-praised memoir of her childhood in India. Since 2008, she has been writing regularly for the London Financial Times and working on a cookbook for Judith Jones at Alfred A Knopf, At Home with Madhur Jaffrey, containing recipes from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Jaffrey is also the food consultant at Dawat restaurant, considered by many food writers to be the best Indian restaurant in New York City.

Online Resources:

NPR: “In the Kitchen with Madhur Jaffrey”

Selected Bibliography:

Climbing the Mango Trees (Knopf 2006)

Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian (Clarkson Potter 2002)

An Invitation to Indian Cooking (Knopf 1973)

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