Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s soccer falls to Central Connecticut 3-0 in home opener -

August 19, 2017

Preseason serves as opportunity for young UMass men’s soccer players -

August 13, 2017

Amherst Fire Department website adds user friendly components and live audio feed -

August 11, 2017

UMass takes the cake for best campus dining -

August 11, 2017

Two UMass students overcome obstacles to win full-ride scholarships -

August 2, 2017

The guilt of saying ‘guilty’ -

August 2, 2017

UMass tuition set to rise 3-4 percent for 2017-2018 school year -

July 18, 2017

PVTA potential cuts affect UMass and five college students -

July 10, 2017

New director of student broadcast media at UMass this fall -

July 10, 2017

Whose American Dream? -

June 24, 2017

Man who threatened to bomb Coolidge Hall taken into ICE custody -

June 24, 2017

Cale Makar drafted by Colorado Avalanche in first round of 2017 NHL Entry Draft -

June 24, 2017

Conservatives: The Trump experiment is over -

June 17, 2017

UMass basketball lands transfer Kieran Hayward from LSU -

May 18, 2017

UMass basketball’s Donte Clark transferring to Coastal Carolina -

May 17, 2017

Report: Keon Clergeot transfers to UMass basketball program -

May 15, 2017

Despite title-game loss, Meg Colleran’s brilliance in circle was an incredible feat -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball loses in heartbreaker in A-10 title game -

May 14, 2017

Navy sinks UMass women’s lacrosse 23-11 in NCAA tournament second round, ending Minutewomen’s season -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball advances to A-10 Championship game -

May 13, 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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