Tarana Husain Khan

Inspired by real-life characters and events,


is a haunting tale of a grand city and its women.

In the princely state of Sherpur, 1897, Feroza Begum, beautiful and wilful, defies her family to attend sawan celebrations at Nawab Shams Ali Khan’s Benazir palace. Feroza is kidnapped and detained in the Nawab’s glittering harem, her husband is forced to divorce her, and her family disowns her. Reluctantly, Feroza marries the Nawab, and iscompelled to negotiate the the glamour and sordidness of the harem.

In the bazaar chowk, Kallan Mirza, a skilled dastango, spins a hauntingly familiar tale of a despotic sorcerer, Tareek Jaan,and his grand illusory city, the Tilism-e -Azam. 

And in the present day, Ameera listens to Dadi narrating the tale of Feroza Begum, Ameera’s great grandmother. Confined to her house because her parents haven’t paid her school fees, Ameera takes comfort from Dadi’s story. As her world disintegrates, she is compelled to ask herself if anything has changed for Sherpur’s women.

Praise for the book

A captivating novel that shows Tarana Khan’s masterful insight into the human heart, complexities of love, and tragedy. 


Evocative writing that summons the soul of the feudal past, rich with history and romance and heartbreak.


‘… a moving, even tragic tale of pride, loss, courage, and determination, as well as that unyielding human capacity to subvert tyranny through art and the power of stories.


Tarana Khan weaves a tale full of razm, ishq, ayyari aur tilism, war, love, trickery and magic and takes us on a fascinating journey into the life of a 19th century Begum. 


About the Author

Dr. Tarana Husain Khan is a writer and food historian based in Rampur. Her articles on Rampur cuisine, culture and oral history have appeared in Eaten Mag,  Scroll, The Wire and DailyO. Her historical fiction, ‘The Begum and the Dastan’ has been published by Tranquebar Westland. Her book on Rampur cuisine, ‘Rampuri Cuisine: Food Fables, Memories and Recipes’, shall be published by Penguin India. 

She hosts a website on Rampur’s cultural and culinary history (taranakhanauthor.com). Her first novel, ‘I’m Not a Bimbette’(2015) and its sequel ‘Cyber Bullied’ (2020) was published by Juggernaut Books. She founded the ‘Rampur Book Club’ in 2016 to promote reading of world literature in Rampur. 

She has contributed a short story to the anthologies Desi Delicacies (Pan Macmillan, India) and Dastarkhwan: Food Writing from South Asia and Diaspora ( Beacon Books, UK). She hosts and curates a website on Rampur culture and oral history. She lives between Rampur and Nainital with her husband.

She is currently working on a Global Challenges Research Fund and Arts and Humanities Research Council funded research project, ‘Forgotten Food: Culinary Memory, Local Heritage and Lost Agricultural Varieties in India’.