Dowjic at Babani’s

Maja Ingeman / Heavy Table
Maja Ingeman / Heavy Table

A good soup can be a rare find. Unlike many menu items which are made to order, the average restaurant’s soup is made in the morning and placed on the “back burner,” so to speak — infrequent stirring combined with constant heat exposure creates an unpleasant congealed layer which, combined with wilted vegetables and a typically underwhelming flavor profile, strikes hesitance into the heart of even a relatively open-minded diner. Yet somehow, the few good soups — the even-textured, flavorful concoctions which receive the care they need to truly shine — can provide the most satisfaction on a cold winter’s night.

The Dowjic served at Babani’s (544 St. Peter St., St. Paul) is one such soup. The menu claims that the thin broth’s “tangy bite has traditionally kept many a Kurdish traveler from wandering too far from home;” its simplicity is part of its appeal. The bright zing of lemon and yogurt packs a punch first and foremost, which is balanced by the warmth and body of chicken broth. A generous sprinkling of basil, slow-cooked rice, and just the slightest bit of ground chicken add texture and substance, making this a filling yet light soup. Refreshing in the summer, comforting in the winter, the tart taste that lingers on the tongue is enough to inspire recurring dreams of a delightful bowl of yellow soup, one whose flavor you may crave time and time again.

A bowl, at $6.25 for twice the size of the puny serving available at most coffee shops, is best consumed with a thick, toasted wedge of the restaurant’s Kurdish bread. Too hungry for liquid sustenance alone? Try the “family style” option, which includes an appetizer, soup, salad, and entree for $18 per person.

Always smooth, always tasty, the Dowjic’s zippy flavor sets it apart from other soups. Pick a night when the Wild play out of town, take advantage of the resulting abundance of parking spaces, and stop at Babani’s to try it out. And when you do go, don’t forget to bring your kids — children under 11 get their soup free!


  1. Kris

    I haven’t tried their Dowjic, but the other food I’ve had there has been great! I don’t believe they have a liquor license but they’re just a few short blocks from Great Waters.

  2. Sharyn

    I absolutely adore Babani’s! Haven’t had their Dowjic (as I’m vegan and all) but their Niskena lentil soup is simply divine, especially when paired with a big crusty hunk of the Kurdish bread. Yum!

  3. Zac

    Just drove by to quiet the nagging thought that they had closed (on my way to Ruam Mit, of course).
    They hadn’t, and now your wonderful review. I have to get back.
    This is (if I recall) one of the very few Kurdish restaurants in the US.
    Let’s all make sure it stays open!

  4. Joe A.

    I called about beer/wine availability, and no license BUT they told me we are welcome to BYOB, and that’s what we plan to do tonight.

  5. Sarah

    Their dowjic and their lentil soups are both worth a special visit. I wish I had some right now.

  6. Christina

    Babani’s dowjic is what I want when I’m feeling not-so-great and want a comfort food I don’t have to make myself. I strongly recommend it whenever we take guests there or suggest a St. Paul restaurant. The only drawback is that Babani’s is in St. Paul and I’m in Minneapolis.

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