City Paper is not for tourists
The Dish: Crispy Green Lentil Rolls
Where to Get It: Etete, 1942 9th St. NW
What It Is: The appetizer features three fried spring rolls, each stuffed with a mix of whole and blended green lentils, jalapeños, garlic, and onion. The cooked lentils are rolled up inside thin pastry sheets and then deep fried to a golden crisp. Traditional Ethiopian sambusas—which are deep fried triangles, also stuffed with green lentils—are presented like Asian spring rolls in this dish. On the side is a sauce made of reduced balsamic vinegar infused with coriander, clove, and cardamom. The sauce has a sweet-acidic-spicy trifecta of flavors, which brings out the heat of the lentils.
The Story: Chef Christopher Robertson is the only person who was handed down the family recipes from original Etete owner Tiwaltengus Shenegelegne. With those recipes in mind, he devised this creative concoction for the restaurant’s grand reopening earlier this year. Sambusas are one of his favorite Ethiopian dishes, he says, but he wanted to change both the pastry as well as we the presentation to make the sambusas more visually interesting.
Why Even Meat Eaters Will Like It: These rolls are finger-licking good. The lentils have just the right amount of spice and the creamy texture of the filling is a great contrast to the crispy shell. The presentation is next level—there may not be anywhere else but Etete where you can get Ethiopian food that is as visually appealing as it is delicious. Pair the Asia-meets-Africa snack with the restaurant’s new cocktail menu.