Dessert at Last: Ethiopian Pasti at Lalibela
If you've eaten at many Ethiopian restaurants around Dallas, you may have noted a glaring omission in the dessert department. Some restaurant menus offer up store-bought confections, but when you place an order the waitstaff often admits they don't actually carry them. Other menus neglect sweets completely. If you try enough, you may actually encounter a slice of cheesecake or more commonly a hunk of tiramisu. Neither will inspire you.
When I spoke with Tizeta Getachew at Desta about the phantom menu items, she told me they occasionally have dessert in stock but they are rarely ordered. Ethiopians never developed much of a taste for sweets, so the lack of dessert is hardly surprising. Or maybe they just haven't encountered a dessert worth ordering.
This makes Lalibela's Ethiopian pasti a bit of a find. Owner and chef Genet Mulugeta makes the fritters herself from a mixture of white and wheat flours leavened overnight with yeast. Black onion seeds fleck the dough, offering subtle nutty and peppery flavors. The yeast adds a little tang, which is balanced with honey and a heavy dusting of powdered sugar.
It's a shame Lalibela doesn't open a bit more early as a pasti would make for a decent breakfast. Picture a beignet with a bit more chew and a lot more character. The coffee here is stronger, too.