I am so spoiled: I got to go out for dinner, and for FUN EXOTIC CUISINES, no less, two times this week!
After working til 8 tonight (oi oi oi), the dinner destination was Dama, an Ethiopian restaurant I found through my trusty Yelp. It’s on the somewhat sketchy part of Columbia Pike (Northern Virginians know to what I refer) in an assuming strip mall type area, but there lined up are the Dama cafe, restaurant, and market. The restaurant was adorbs!
Being my ridiculous self, I was delighted (which you can’t really tell from this picture) that most of the clientele definitely seemed to be Ethiopian. More than that, it was clearly a family owned restaurant (adorable little children kept running around), and the whole time my cousin and I were made to feel incredibly welcome and cared for.
And the food… oh the food. Is there ANYTHING more fun than sharing Ethiopian food? Eating with heavenly, HEAVENLY bread (injera! Sweet injera! Nothing rhymes with injera for me to write you an ode, but if I could I would!)
The dishes on the rim of this massive platter make up what the menu referred to as my “vegetarian”, and, this is great, “plate”. Yeah, that’s a plate. Sure. From the side (the three o’clock of the plate) is plain salad (the only nonexciting thing- could’ve been a garden salad at your run of the mill place); collards (!); chickpeas with a really great flavorful sauce; red lentils in a wonderful smokey oily chili sauce; at the top some kind of bean blend (I think she said it was lentils and chickpeas?) which was the. best. ever. Super sweet and rich!; and finally a dish of carrots, potatoes, and cabbage, which sounds like the most boring thing ever but Ethiopian-ified was unreal.
I am having a hard time describing these because the beauty of Ethiopian food is that the ingredients are very simple and wholesome. The flavor comes through with incredible seasoning and preparation.
And injera. Oh injera.
They gave extra! <3<3<3
In the center is a serving of some of my cousin’s bread salad, which came in a massive side bowl:
More heavenly injera, sweet ripe tomatoes, tasty herbs, and chilis, which gave it a kick! I got one in the back of my throat, WHOO!
Some noteworthy closeups:
Spicy richly oily red lentils! Heaven!
Collards. Oh sweet collards.
Just in case that wasn’t great enough (and I seriously STUFFED myself. It was a long, tiring day at work, it was the best Ethiopian food I’ve ever tasted, and it is just SO MUCH FUN to eat with your hands with bread as your utensil), there was the attached bakery.
The incredibly sweet and friendly woman behind the counter said that the pastries were generally not super traditional Ethiopian, but were all baked on site based on their own recipes, and that they were known for the fact that most of their dishes were vegan (which I think may have to do with the fact that- like me!- many Ethiopians are Orthodox and have to follow fasting rules, when we theoretically give up all dairy… which I am more lax about!)
But let’s just look at those cookies, shall we?
So I went to BUY a SINGLE cookie for my mom. Here’s what I ended up with instead, FOR FREE:
YUMMY YUMMY YUMMY! Light, flaky, buttery (despite the lack of butter!) cookies. Some with apricot filling :D Some with powdered sugar :D
Basically, I need to get back to Dama ASAP.