Madhur was born on 13 August 1933 as Madhur Bahadur to Lala Raj Bans Bahadur and Kashmiran Rani in a Kayastha Hindu family. She is an actress, as well as an author of some cookbooks and a few children’s books. She was born in Delhi but moved to Kanpur for eight years because of her father’s relocation. On returning to Delhi, she completed her schooling at Queen Mary's Higher Secondary School and later got a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Delhi University’s Miranda College. All through school and college, she took a keen interest in acting and grabbed some major roles in the productions. She also joined the Unity Theatre in 1951 and performed two plays as a part of it. In 1953, on completing her graduation, she began working nights at the All India Radio as an RJ.
The British government issued her an educational grant, and the British Council stepped in to give her a scholarship, impressed by her skills as an actor in one of the plays. This seed money enabled her to join the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London, in 1955. On graduating, she moved to
, with stopovers at Vermont and Washington, D.C. Here, she was a tour guide to the UN. In 1962, she made her off-Broadway debut in Rolf Forsberg's ‘A Tenth of an Inch Makes the Difference’. Three years later, she worked in her first film titled ‘Shakespeare Wallah,’ a film by
, which got her Best Actress Award at the Berlin International Film Festival. Madhur has worked in films and television alike. She is known for her work in ‘Prime,’ a rom-com by Ben Younger and, ‘A Late Quartet,’ American drama by Yaron Zilberman.
Eventually, she shifted her career as an actor to one of an author. It was only after she left for London for studies that she began cooking her mother’s recipes. Sooner or later, this hobby developed her skills as a chef, and she became a well-known cookbook author, who has given her recipes to a Manhattan restaurant by the name of Dawat. She has written several books which have been acknowledged by the James Beard Foundation Awards time and again. Moreover, she has even written a few children’s books. Madhur married the late actor Saeed Jaffey, whom she began dating in Delhi itself, in 1958. She had three daughters with him- Zia, Meera, and Sakina. However, in 1965, the two parted ways. In 1969, she got married to the famous violinist, Sanford Allen.
She is the recipient of the Muse Award presented to her by New York Women in Film & Television and also the Honorary CBE awarded to her for her services in film, television and cookery smooth cultural relations between the United Kingdom, India, and the United States.