In December 2019 one of my closest friends took me to Budapest for a long weekend as a Christmas treat (I know right, what an amazing friend). We arrived at our hotel at lunchtime on the Thursday, absolutely ravenous from having dragged ourselves out of bed at 2:15am that morning to catch the flight. We got the cheapest taxi ever into the centre of the city and agreed we would skip the whole “let’s browse all of the options before choosing where to eat this one meal” holiday trope, instead making a pact to just eat at the first place we found that was a) serving food; and b) serving food.
The taxi driver dropped us right outside a colourfully quaint restaurant called Soul Food so we, sticking to our agreement, made our way in – no questions asked. Downstairs, it was only me, my friend and the restaurant’s owner who, after having plied us mojitos that we didn’t ask for, came to sit with us and regale us of his time travelling the Deep South of America. He explained how all of the amazing food he’d eaten there had inspired him to return to his home city of Budapest and open the very restaurant we were sat in getting tipsier by the minute.
The food he served us was absolutely incredible. Amongst the many, many dishes we shared was a piping hot bowl of Jambalaya. As my friend is a vegetarian, the Jambalaya was pushed down my end of the table which was absolutely fine by me. It was so good that I’ve cooked it at least once a month since the trip, and even more frequently during lockdown when the variety of ingredients available at the supermarket has been limited. It’s very simple to make, relatively cheap and only requires one cooking pot so you won’t be left with a mountain of washing up at the end.
I usually find it tastes best when cooked to a soundtrack of Bill Withers’ best hits or a playlist of Motown classics – dancing whilst chopping is a necessity.
I hope you enjoy the Jambalaya as much as I do!
Cals per serving: 776
- Coconut Oil x 1tbsp for cooking. If you don’t normally stock Coconut Oil, a drizzle of Olive Oil will also work. I wouldn’t recommend a spray oil like Frylight for this particular dish as you need it to be as juicy as possible.
- Boneless chicken thighs x 8 thighs
- Chorizo Ring x 225g
- Frozen King Prawns x 250g
- Onion x 1
- Red Bell Pepper x 1
- Long Grain Rice x 300g
- Chicken Stock Cube x 1
- Boiling Water x 400ml
- Spices: A lot of this is down to personal preference, depending on how spicy you want your Jambalaya to be. I would definitely recommend using 1tsp of Garlic Powder as a base either way. As well as this, I use 2tsp of Smoked Paprika and 1tsp Cayenne Chilli Pepper for a smoky flavour with a little bit of a kick. It’s worth playing around with the Paprika to Cayenne ratio until it fits your spice preference just right.
- Stick on your tunes (I warned you the dancing was non-negotiable).
- Cut your chicken thighs into chunks. It’s not a very Masterchef way of doing it, by I find the most efficient way is to use scissors. Rub the spices into the cubed meat and leave for ten minutes for the flavours to infuse.
- Meanwhile, dice the onion and red pepper.
- Heat the oil in the pan and when hot, fry the chicken thigh, onion and pepper. Turn to a medium heat and keep the lid of the pan on to discourage any drying out. When the chicken is cooked all of the way through, remove meat from the pan. There should hopefully be quite a bit of juice bubbling in the pan, in which case you’ll need to use a slotted spoon. Set the chicken to one side, leaving the onion, pepper and juice in the pan.
- To the same pan add your frozen prawns, leaving to bubble on a medium heat.
- Slice the chorizo into coin-size pieces.
- When the prawns are pink and cooked, add the chorizo to the pan.
- Dance for five to six minutes whilst the chorizo and prawns bubble together in the pan. Again, leave the lid on.
- Reintroduce the chicken thigh to the pan and add the can of chopped tomatoes as well as the rice.
- Mix the stock cube into the boiling water and add the mixture to the pan, ensuring all of the rice is submerged in the water.
- Stick the lid back on and have another dance until the rice is cooked all the way through. Between songs, be sure to give the Jambalaya a little mix to ensure that the rice isn’t sticking to the pan. If you find it’s dried out or sticking before the rice is fully cooked, feel free to add another 100ml of water.
- Serve in a big bowl in the middle of the table allowing everybody to help themselves.
I’d love to know if there are any Cajun-inspired dishes you love to cook! Find me on Insta at @mel_c_owen