SHAHNAMEH (The Epic of King)

During hot summer days the cellar was the favourite sitting room, with its marble floor laid with Persian carpets, with bolsters all the way around the octagonal pond, filled with crystal clear water. There was the scent of freshly cut roses, and along the shelves you could see many bottles filled with homemade drinks. There were also book shelves, where Baba (father) often read, and played a game of chess with uncle Sshari. I often dozed in the early hours of the afternoon in the relaxing atmosphere with Baba reading the famous book of Shahnameh ( The Epic of Kings) to me with his soft musical voice.

Many of the stories written by Ferdowsi were about Zoroastrian religion and history. It was much later in life, when visiting Mashhad the holy city of Muslim, that I made the journey by bus to Tus to see Ferdowsi tomb. I stood under the shaded tree in a cool breeze, and almost drifted back to my childhood days in the cool cellar with Baba reading the book of Shahnameh to me all over again.

ORANGE DRINK

Sharbat-e-porteghal

300ml/½ pint orange juice, freshly squeezed.

Thinly pared rind of 2 medium oranges.

4 tablespoons lemon juice.

90-115g/3-4oz granulated sugar or to taste.

Put all the ingredients in a small heavy saucepan. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, then simmer for about 30 minutes until thick. Drain in a sieve over a bowl when cold. Store in airtight bottles.