Scrolling Headlines:

UMass men’s basketball falters in the second half, falling to George Washington 83-67 Thursday -

February 24, 2017

UPDATE: SGA announces second and third artist for ‘Mullins Live!’ -

February 23, 2017

Divest UMass and STPEC host panel on building ‘solidarity economies’ in the Trump era -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s basketball losing streak extends to 10 games after loss to URI -

February 23, 2017

Sixth annual Advocacy Day set to take place March 1 -

February 23, 2017

Panel discusses racial, sexual and psychological violence in response to art exhibit -

February 23, 2017

Judy Dixon enters final season with UMass tennis with simple message: One match at a time -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball enduring early-season limitation in playing in New England -

February 23, 2017

Minutewomen softball begins season with cross-country travel, string of tournaments -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball looks to bounce back from disappointing 2016 season -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior Hannah Murphy is Angela McMahon’s latest legend in the making -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior defenders accept leadership roles in quest for ninth consecutive Atlantic 10 Championship -

February 23, 2017

Kelsey McGovern rejoins UMass women’s lacrosse as an assistant coach after starring for Minutewomen -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse looks to continue improving throughout 2017 season -

February 23, 2017

Spring Sports Special Issue 2017 -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defense relying on senior leadership with new faces in starting lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball fills holes left by seniors with freshmen for 2017 -

February 23, 2017

The Hart of the Lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball prepares for a long, busy season in 2017 -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defenseman Tyler Weeks makes his way back from ACL injury -

February 23, 2017

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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