Kurdish Lemonade at Babani’s in St. Paul

Emily Schnobrich / Heavy Table
Emily Schnobrich / Heavy Table

We’re crazy for Dowjic
, a hot and tangy soup from Babani’s Kurdish Restaurant in St. Paul. Its restorative, lemon basil broth anchored by the soft sediment of rice and bits of chicken always makes me think of that small Maurice Sendak book called Chicken Soup with Rice. I need no other reason to stop at Babani’s, although the restaurant’s lemonade doesn’t hurt.

When the grip of alcohol is what you’re after, just without the foggy head, Babani’s lemonade ($1.50, $1 refills) stands in like a champ. The menu says it’s made from whole lemons, but our server told us the secret is dried limes (brown wrinkly things, sometimes called Omani lemons). They give the drink an intense herbal bent and a squinching, squeezing tang that leaves your tongue a little dry. And wanting more. It’s seriously intoxicating, cordial-like but not too sweet, filtered and clean and just like summer.

With a shot of vodka, it would make a radical patio cocktail. Though just like that medicinal Dowjic, Babani’s lemonade stands proud all on its own.

Babani’s Kurdish Restaurant, 544 St. Peter St, St. Paul 55402; 651.602.9964