Hey all --
haven't seen any word on Molana [watertown, 5 spring st.] in at least a year and a half.... so, thought i'd write in on one of the city's few Persian-cuisine alternatives to Lala Rokh, at least that i know of.
in brief, the food is homier, more rib-stickin', cheaper (entree prices top off at $15), and far less *precious*, to my mind anyway, than the stuff at Lala Rokh. the room's purely functional and the service, though friendly as anything, is maybe a little bit slow. being the only person in my party who is not of Persian descent, i shy away from big words like 'authentic'.... but i can tell you that these meals put very big smiles on the faces of my iranian-expat buddies, all of whom hanker after their mothers' home cooking and relish any opportunity to speak farsi in public (at molana, both are available). i liked the food a lot, too.:)
here's what we had -- i'll transcribe from the take-out menu and comment as best i can....
*flatbread w/ hummus (complimentary) plus an order of mast-o-khair (yogurt with chopped cucumber and mint). hummus was kind of thick and bland to my tastes, but all of us loved this yogurt dish, especially as a dip for the bread, which was standard-issue pita, though fresh and warmed in an oven.
*ash reshteh -- ash is a chunky persian stew that, in this version, combines vermicelli (cut short like fideos), rice, red kidney beans, split-peas, parsley, spinach, cilantro and some other herbs. it is tasty stuff, man. couple of spoonfuls gives you a good idea without filling you up, though i'd come back and have a bowl for lunch.
*mirza gasemi -- only vegetarian entree on the menu -- a garlicky pile of sauteed eggplant, onion, tomato, chopped-up eggs, all mashed together and served beside a twin-pile of basmati. again, weird-sounding combination; very curious and wonderful dish. doesn't look like much but extremely hard to stop eating.
*baghali polo with lamb shank. baghali polo is rice with limas and [a lot of] dill weed. (polo is the word for rice cooked with other stuff). lamb shank had been boiled and was very, very juicy and tasted a lot like...ermm...lamb, pure n'simple.
*kabob-e-barg -- two skewers of marinated pounded beef tenderloin, again served with the basmati, plus a grilled tomato. didn't try this one but my friend really, really likes these kabobs.
*shirin polo -- chicken kabob served next to basmati that had been cooked with orange peel and almonds. sweet, eerie, fascinating. i've been thinking about this rice since yesterday; i should go back and give it another whirl.
err, that's it; apologies for the cultural alienation that's keeping me from being more sincerely discriminating. but i'd say, if you go in for very basic, filling, homestyle, honest persian cooking, do check molana out.