a little backgrOUND info...
We begin our day with a leisurely breakfast, then set off from the elegant suburb of Geytarieh, situated in Tehran’s north. Today, Bijan’s son, Ali, is kindly taking us to see his home in Taleghan.
Bijan is my husband’s, infamous, pint-sized, old-army-friend. In Iran, it is compulsory for young men, aged 18 and older, to complete two years of army training. You are able to defer this training, as long as you are studying in University, or if your parents are rich enough to buy you out. Bijan and Jamshid, have been friends ever since their first meeting in army base camp, just over 50 years ago.
The scenery as we approach Taleghan is breathtakingly beautiful.
Ali is a superb driver. He is ultra-relaxed and copes with Tehran’s traffic-chaos with no sweat. He only uses his horn in extreme emergencies, unlike many Iranian drivers. Today we are lucky to be also travelling with Ali’s gorgeous 5-week old pup. Her name is Kaya, she is of husky breed, has one blue-eye and one brown-eye, and is extremely clever. Ali a gentle, kind-hearted, young man and tells us also has another 2 dogs and 6 cats at his home, which will all be eager to meet us.
Located between Karaj and Ghazvin, in the Alborz mountain range, Taleghan is roughly a 3-hour drive from Tehran. It consists of many small, farming villages, and due to its location and rich fertile soil, is rich in dairy produce as well as honey.
Even though it raining heavily at times we catch glimpses of snow covered mountains, the stunning Taleghan lake and the colourful roofed houses of Ista Village. In the Village of Ista, time has come to a stand-still. They have neither, running water, nor electricity. The village folk refuse to have National ID cards and all the children are home schooled.
A friendly greeting
We arrive at Ali’s house and find it is directly opposite a small green, village mosque. We park outside the gated property and enter through a small wrought-iron gate and go inside. We are immediately greeted by 6 cats in differing sizes, shapes and colours, all extremely friendly and hungry.
a step back in time
The house is at least 50 years old and is quite a shock to us, coming straight from a modern Tehran apartment. We settle in, boil the kettle over an antique, gas-heater and make a pot of tea. After numerous cups of tea and several hours of conversation, together, we make a simple dinner of Tabeh kebab with rice. Ali had earlier that morning had thumbed through the Jewels of Persia cookbook, in order to find something to make for dinner. Tabeh kebab, simply means “kebab cooked in a frypan”. It is very easy to make, requires minimal ingredients and is super delicious. I like to serve it with fresh, flat-bread, herbs and yoghurt, but on this occasion we had it with rice, which was equally delicious. Click here to download the recipe.
A Sweet Breakfast
Later that evening we head to the village to get some supplies for breakfast. We buy 5 loaves of Barbari bread, straight from the bakers’ tanoor oven. Barbari, is a type of Iranian flat-bread that is very popular on the Iranian breakfast table. It is quite similar to Turkish bread, but it usually cooked a little more and is thinner and longer. Click here to download the recipe.
With our fresh bread on board we head to the local, dairy-producer, known in Iran as the Labanioti. There we buy, unpasteurized-milk for Ali’s many cats, some Sar-shir, local honey and rose-petal jam for us. Sar-shir, literally translates to the cream from the top of the milk and I don’t particularly like fresh cream, but Sar-shir is incredible in both taste and texture. As I only have it only once or twice, every 2 years, I enjoy it immensely when the opportunity arises.
During our visit to the Labanioti, the shop owner, a 50-ish year-old male, is insistent on making conversation with me. During the conversation, random staff pop-out of the store-room to have a quick peek, at the strange, foreign woman. The shop owner asks me numerous questions about our life in Australia, about how I like Iran, is this my first visit to Iran etc, and etc. The shop owner once finished with his questions turns to my husband, Jamshid. With a glint in his eye, he tells him, that he is a very lazy man, as we don’t have any children. The entire shop bursts into laughter and the shop owner then as a departing gift, gives me a present of doogh, which is a yoghurt drink with salt and mint! A lovely sentiment, but I am not a huge fan of doogh.
When we get back to Ali’s house we have several more cups of tea then settle in for the night. We sleep under a corsi and are toasty warm all night. A corsi, is basically a low table with an electric-heater fastened to the underside of the table. A quilted blanket is then placed over the top of the table. Folk sit around the table and put their feet under the blanket to keep warm. It is a very relaxing experience and keeps you toasty warm.