24 Aug 2017

Ethiopian dining: It’s about more than the food

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Tiruzer Mamo is no newcomer to Maryland.

The Ethiopian immigrant came to this area in 1990, joining her older sister, with whom she lived in Fort Washington for a time.

She’s also a culinary ambassador for her homeland, preparing and serving a variety of Ethiopian dishes at Abol Ethiopian Cuisine in Silver Spring, which she opened in February 2013.

Why Silver Spring?

“It’s close to everything,” Mamo said.

Abol Ethiopian Cuisine is one of about three dozen restaurants participating in the third annual Silver Spring Takoma Park Restaurant week, Sept. 5-10.

“I thought I’d give it a try,” Mamo said. “Last year I didn’t participate and I want to try this year.”

Even though her 38-seat restaurant features only Ethiopian dishes, Mamo said, most of her customers aren’t Ethiopians, despite the area’s large Ethiopian population, which numbers in the thousands.

Mamo is happy to introduce her non-Ethiopian clientele to Ethiopian cuisine. During Restaurant Week, Abol will feature two- and three-course lunch and dinner menus, ranging from $12 to $27. Among the dishes are sambusa, which are savory filled pastries; curry lamb and chicken; and goden tibs, which are short ribs.                                                                            

“Basically, it’s the flavor, the taste, the spices” that distinguish Ethiopian food, Mamo said. “We try to keep it that way. It’s a very special cuisine. It’s not really hot and spicy. The dishes rely on savory spices.”

Ethiopian desserts, coffees, wines and beers round out the menu.

Mamo is also eager to introduce Americans to the Ethiopian dining philosophy, which centers around serving meals with big platters that are shared, if diners request it.

“It’s sharing platters, stories, talking about the day, family time,” she said.

Abol Ethiopian Cuisine is at 8626 Colesville Road in downtown Silver Spring. It’s phone number is (301) 650-0061 and its website is abolethiopian.com.


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