Scrolling Headlines:

Demonstrators issue demands at Board of Trustees meeting as Woolridge announces resignation from post of chairman -

December 9, 2016

UMass men’s basketball shows improvement in 3-point shooting. -

December 8, 2016

UMass men’s basketball cruises to a victory over Pacific behind a strong second half -

December 8, 2016

UMass Divest and proponents of sanctuary campus will not be allowed to speak at Board of Trustees meeting -

December 8, 2016

Former political prisoner to speak on human rights and prison experience -

December 8, 2016

UMass men’s basketball using late-game situations as learning opportunities for remainder of season -

December 8, 2016

UMass men’s basketball kicks off Gotham Classic at home against Pacific -

December 8, 2016

UMass hockey looks to continue recent improvements against Connecticut -

December 8, 2016

UMass hockey team confident in game plan despite UConn’s constant change in net -

December 8, 2016

UMass women’s basketball falls apart in the fourth quarter in 71-55 loss to Hofstra -

December 8, 2016

It’s been a long year -

December 8, 2016

A return to the collapse of 2008 -

December 8, 2016

Mindfulness in, and in spite of, a technological age -

December 8, 2016

Beer, bets and pool: a High Horse unofficial review -

December 8, 2016

Don’t let winter stop you from running outside -

December 8, 2016

BREAKING: Train allegedly strikes pedestrian in Amherst -

December 7, 2016

Campus Climate survey shows strong response -

December 7, 2016

Jennifer Carlson gives talk on race and gun law enforcement -

December 7, 2016

Labor Center to receive increased funding from University -

December 7, 2016

Verdi enforces playing a full 40 minutes as UMass takes on Hofstra -

December 7, 2016

Mediterranean Meals Made in Amherst

There are certain foods that every American is familiar with. Whether or not you have ever eaten Peking duck, tasted genuine antipasti or learned the difference between empanadas and fajitas, the regional cooking styles behind them should be instantly familiar. There are countless other culinary traditions, however, that remain a mystery to the general populace, and as the melting pot continues to boil, new and interesting styles continue to emerge. In this spirit of diversity, a brand-new restaurant called Moti is bringing the flavors of the Middle East and the Mediterranean to Amherst.

Moti is owned and operated by chef Reza Rahnani and is named after his mother, a celebrated Bostonian restaurateur. Located in Amherst Center, the eatery serves up a variety of Persian and Mediterranean cuisine, drawing from traditional family recipes. The Persian style is marked by flavorful spice mixtures and marinades, as well as liberal amounts of onions and rice.

What strikes the diner upon opening up a Moti menu is the health of the options available. While plenty of organic beef and lamb dishes are available, most of the menu follows a decidedly lean trend, and, in contrast to many European styles, which tend to douse main courses in cream or cheese sauces, the Mediterranean traditions lean more towards yogurt, onion and chickpea.

Even where meat is absent, it is hardly missed, as the variety of flavors and textures is enough to satisfy the pallet in dishes such as creamy lentils and falafel sandwiches.

Appetizers offer light fare that are packed with flavor. They range from the familiar hummus platter to the decidedly more exotic dolmades, a mixture of rice and herbs wrapped in grape leaves whose acidic flavor can be a bit overwhelming.  

From there, the menu continues on in a more consistent manner. Many items come wrapped in pita bread or served in a pocket, and whether they feature lamb, chicken or falafel, every sandwich is stuffed with fresh vegetables and homemade sauce.

Seasonings are top-notch at Moti, with all of their meats and poultry marinated in-house, and, although the taste of saffron is nearly omnipresent, it is never overwhelming. Ground beef has rarely seemed so exciting.

Those entrees which do not come wrapped in flatbread are served over a bed of well-cooked basmati rice. This long-grain rice is not simply a background ingredient but a dietary staple, and it serves to absorb the sauces and flavors of the headlining ingredients.

One such item that stood out as a winner is the “famous N.Y. chicken/lamb and rice.” Served with a yogurt-ranch house dressing, the combination of chicken, lamb and veggies is tossed with gyro flatbread and basmati for a fresh and satisfying meal.

Portions at Moti are decent, but not overly large. Most items on the menu range from $5 to $8 and will serve as a respectable lunch, but for those interested in really filling up should look to the larger dinner platters. These are priced at around $15 and are filled out with skewers of Kabob and roasted vegetables.

Other notable items at Moti include specialty drinks, which vary from the tangy and refreshing to the downright sour, like yogurt-based Doogh.

While in past years the cozy location next to Antonio’s has been a sand trap for aspiring restaurants, this one may buck the trend. Available for take-out or dining in, Moti serves simple, tasty ethnic cuisine from traditional family recipes. And while every item may not be suited for the timid American, there is sure to be something on the menu for everyone.

Andrew Sheridan can be reached at asher1@student.umass.edu.

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