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Updated: Jan 28, 2021

As mentioned in Day 21 of The Challenge

Growing up, my dad made jambalaya a lot. I have never been to the South of the US, never been to New Orelans or had true creole food, but jambalaya is a comfort food for me, a childhood flavour. I have no idea how close mine approximates a true jambalaya, call it a faux jambalaya if you want, but it is tasty and filling, with few dishes and a warming flavour hitting all the right notes. It can be meaty or fishy or both, always with a bunch of vegetables. I cheated for this one and used the last of my homemade Thai red curry paste as it needed using.


1 spicy sausage, sliced (I used Turkish Suçuk)

2 pieces of chicken per person

2 tbsp olive oil

4 prawns per person, shelled and veined

6 medium onions, roughly chopped

2 heads of garlic, chopped

3 tbsp Thai red curry paste

2 red peppers, chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

1 courgette, chopped

a dozen okra, chopped

Hot peppers - as many or as few as you like depending on taste and which ones you have. I used 5 or 6 little ones of medium heat

2 cups of rice (we used a wild rice mix for this)

1 cup red cooking wine

4 cups broth

2 stalks fresh thyme

2 stalks fresh oregano

2 tsp cayenne pepper (or sometimes I substitute tandoori powder as it has a different heat and a warmth to it)

1 tsp cumin

salt and pepper to taste.

1) Brown the chicken pieces and sausage in the oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Grind pepper over it while it cooks, add salt if you are going to, and add cayenne and cumin. Set aside.

2) Cook onions and garlic in the oil and sausage fats. When they change colour, add the curry paste and stir for a few minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and allow them to start to soften slightly.

3) Add the cooking wine and cook further before adding the rice. (This allows the acid in the wine to react with the okra so they don't turn slimy). Stir until the rice turns translucent and add the broth. Stir the chicken and sausage back in, allowing them to cook alongside the rice, absorbing all the flavours now bubbling away.

4) Cook approximately 20 minutes until the rice is cooked and the liquid almost entirely absorbed. Tuck the shrimp into the rice 5 minutes before you are ready to serve and cook until they are just opaque.

5) Serve it hot, on its own, with mustard or hot sauce.

Jambalaya is one of those dishes which never comes out the same way twice for me. The general lines of the dish are there, but the exact flavouring and final product depend on what meat and/or seafood I am in the mood for, what veg I have at home and what the sniff test around my spice cupboard reveals which might be of interest.... Play around with it, use whatever veg or meat you want, and tweak the spicing to suit you. Have fun!

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