Ethiopian - who has items beyond the "standard menu"?
I'm awfully fond of Ethiopian cuisine, but the places I get to all seem to have the same fairly standard menu selections: a predictable (although delicious) assortment of wats and alechas and vegetables (and lately fish).
I recall the old Mama Desta's had a wonderful fairly dry spiced cottage cheese - there was a post here that detailed the several raw beef items that are the specialty of one place at Skyline.
Can anyone tell me about any other items available locally that stray beyond the "standard 25"? Is anyplace inventing new dishes or new combinations?
Zed's has spiced cottage cheese, plus a delicious mushroom-and-pepper appetizer, and my favorite dish, flax seed (telba watt). I don't recall ever seeing the mushrooms and flax on other menus. I've had the cottage cheese at a place here in Philly, but it wasn't spiced. Still good though, with the dry texture and tangy flavor.
I'll second Zed's for the "odd" dishes; the indugay tibbs (mushrooms and peppers) are good (although I think they'd be more appropriate over a nice sausage sub...), and the telba watt has an interesting layer of cardamom flavor that I've never seen in any other Ethiopian dish.
Zed's Ethiopian Cuisine
1201 28th St NW, Washington, DC 20007
I would also recommend Zed's though I haven't had the indugay tibbs or cottage cheese there. Inguday tibbs isn't that rare of a vegetable dish; often it creeps up in appetizer sections as well as the "vegetarian" section. I think that might be because it is traditionally made with niter kibbeh (spiced butter) whereas the vast majority of vegetarian items on an ethiopian menu are made with oil in order to adhere to the fasting proscriptions of the Ethiopian orthodox church. I'd also check out Dukem, especially during the fasting (Lenten) season. They offer both a 12 and 14 item vegetarian combo that has some unique dishes on it, including the spiced cottage cheese, telba wat, azifa, and other specialties. If raw meat is your thing several places offer it, particularly Zenebech Injera and a few others in Little Ethiopia around 9th and U streets. You may need to do some convincing that you want the meat raw if your not an expat yourself, but they should offer it.