Marcus Samuelsson's Must-Have Ethiopian Ingredients - Exclusive

Whether you're a chef or the average food-loving human, learning about different cultures means opening your palate to an appealing array of ingredients and foods. You can certainly taste a wide variety of things while you're traveling, but it's always fun to incorporate something new once you're back home to keep the spirit of faraway places present in your kitchen. In an exclusive interview with Food Republic in advance of his Overtown EatUp! event at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Marcus Samuelsson shared his favorite Ethiopian ingredients to have on hand, such as honey, coffee, fermented butter, and chickpea flour.

The chef opened Marcus Addis in Ethiopia's capital city in late December 2023, complete with new menus and an exciting dining scene. His Ethiopian restaurant debut has been a momentous occasion, and with it comes plenty of inspiration from the country's foods. While the richly flavored stews and spongy injera bread are dining staples sure to impress any newbie to Ethiopian cuisine, Samuelsson highlights the simple ingredients that are at its foundation — one of them was even used in the name of one of his NYC restaurants. 

Sweet and savory elements abound

Samuelsson shares his fondness for Ethiopian honey — also known as mar — noting that it influenced the name of his restaurant: Hav & Mar. To counter the sweetness, he calls on the bitterness of Ethiopian coffee, also known as buna. He mentions less commonly used ingredients like flaxseed oil and fermented butter, as well as more familiar ones like sesame seeds and chickpeas.

"There's a chickpea flour called shiro that is absolutely amazing," he raves. "I cook it very simply, just in ginger, garlic, tomato, and water or stock so it becomes almost like a porridge." The comforting mixture can also be transformed following a different cooking method, as Samuelsson notes. "Sometimes I do fritters of that." If he's using chickpea flour in a multi-layered dish, he says, "I use [it] at the beginning, maybe as a first puree on a sauce on a plate. And then maybe after that I match that with let's say cauliflower or apple or something like that."

While there are novel foods to try no matter where you go, there's a lot to be said about utilizing a single ingredient in multiple variations. Something as basic as ground chickpeas can take on many culinary identities if you let your imagination pave the way.

Marcus Samuelsson will be hosting the Overtown EatUp! event at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, which runs from February 22-25 in Miami, Florida.