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Photographs of the deteriorating yet grand palace of Sulaiman Khan, the raja of Mahmudabad, show that the courtly legacy of his ancestors lives on. These photographs first appeared in our August/Septemeber 2014 issue with Holly Shaffer’s story “Soul of the Palace.”

lucknow drawing room
A grand drawing room, one of 125 or so rooms in Mahmudabad House, the palace of Sulaiman Khan, the Raja of Mahmudabad; Khan’s family ruled this municipality about 35 miles from Lucknow from the 16th century until Indian Independence in 1947. Ariana Lindquist
Lucknow library
Shelves in the sprawling, yet deteriorating library at Mahmudabad House. Sulaiman Khan, like his father and grandfather before him, is a great scholar. He holds a degree in mathematics from Cambridge, but his knowledge base ranges broadly from Western to Islamic subjects. Ariana Lindquist
Queen Victoria portrait
A portrait of Queen Victoria on a wall at Mahmudabad House. When the British took over India in 1858, they quickly brought noble families like the Khans under their influence. Ariana Lindquist
Lucknow embroidery
Today, the Khans remain leaders of the community in Mahmudabad, overseeing religious rites and assisting local residents economically. Sulaiman’s wife, Vijaya, provides space and support to a group of local women who earn their money by creating chikan, a form of embroidery for which Lucknow and its surrounding area are famed. The women sell saris, tablecloths, and other fabrics adorned with their work. Ariana Lindquist
Lucknow kebabs
Mahmudabad House’s head chef Afzal Ahmad (left) and his wife’s brother, Azmatullah, cook outside in the palace courtyard. Leg of goat, raan kebab, and whole chicken, murgh musullum, are coated in ground nuts, spices, and cream, scented with keora, or screw-pine flower, and long-cooked until tender. Flavored with expensive spices and fragrances and lavished with ghee, this is the food that once displayed the wealth and generosity of the nobility. Ariana Lindquist
Lucknow royal toast
Ahmad simmers thick slices of crisp-fried bread in a rich cream infused with saffron for the showstopping shahi tukra, royal toast, which will be topped with edible silver leaf. Ariana Lindquist
Lucknow mutanjan
Mutanjan, a dish of slow-baked rice and meat sweetened with saffron syrup, is made using a process called dum (breath). Baked over a fire, in a pot sealed with a ring of dough and crowned with charcoal, the rice comes out dry and fragrant, each grain distinct. It is a dish that is gifted as nazar, or blessed food, during the mourning period for Shia Muslims known as Muharram, which recalls the battle at Karbala, 680 A.D., and the martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson. Clay bowls of this sweetened rice, distributed to hundreds, line the patios of Mahmudabad House during that time. Ariana Lindquist
Lucknow sherbert
A thick sherbet made of mango, sugar, and water provides cooling relief on a day at Mahmudabad House when the temperature reaches 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Ariana Lindquist

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