The origins of the word ‘jambalaya’ are obscure, with several colourful tales of its etymology, one being that it is related to the Spanish word for ham [jamon], but the most likely is a link to the Provençal word jambalaia, meaning a mixture, or mish-mash. It is simply a Cajun version of pilaf or paella and traditionally is heavy on sea food and meat caught in the bayous. Traditional recipes can be quite complex and time-consuming, but I leave those to the purist. This is a much simplified version of this very tasty dish.


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup diced chicken meat*.

1 large onion, chopped

4 medium cloves garlic, minced.

1 red chilli, seeded and diced**.

1 cup long grain rice.

1 teaspoon ajwain seed, crushed.

½ cup cooked shrimps.

Salt to taste

1 can 400g can diced tomatoes

2 cups chicken stock.

1 spring onion, chopped.


Heat oil and butter in a saucepan, sauté the chicken meat until sealed. Remove and set aside. Add the garlic, onion, and chilli to the pan and cook, stirring, until the onion is soft. Add chicken meat, shrimps and the rice; stir and cook until rice is well coated with oil.

Add ajwain, salt, tomatoes, and chicken stock and bring to the boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from the stove and allow to sit for ten minutes, then fluff up, adding the spring onion, and serve.

Serves: 2.

*. Or diced ham. If using ham, simply fry the onion, garlic and chilli, then add the ham with the shrimps and rice.

**. Or to taste.

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