Dulet, the Ethiopian dish that usually features tripe, kidney, and liver chopped mostly beyond recognition, then served either cooked or raw, is indubitably not for everybody. My apologies to vegetarians for the above description. But to some of us, it’s a delicacy. And thanks to the team at Dama Ethiopian Restaurant in Arlington, those who eschew meat can enjoy the spice of dulet without the animal protein.
All Ethiopian restaurants are vegetarian-friendly with their combos of lentil stews, but Dama goes above and beyond. At the adjacent cafe and bakery, there are fluffy vegans cakes and pastries. In the restaurant proper, the menu includes a section of vegetarian “meat” dishes. There’s dulet, but also kitfo, tibs, and doro wat.
But the server said that for a palate that appreciates spice, the offal-free dulet is the way to go. She wasn’t sure what the protein was, but said she was fairly certain that it was wheat gluten. The chopped gluten is cooked with jalapeños and softened onions, but it’s not terribly spicy.
The injera is less sticky and less acidic than many others, not my preference. But it still does its job to scoop up the dulet and dip it in a mound of mitmita, a spice powder that’s fiery with bird’s-eye chiles. A cooling salad of lightly dressed lettuce and tomato is much appreciated after a bite of mitmita-enhanced dulet.
No, the real offal version of dulet isn’t for everyone. But the vegetarian version? That most assuredly is. // 1503 Columbia Pike, Arlington
For more reviews, subscribe to our twice-weekly Food newsletter.