Pic of Cajun chicken jambalaya

Cajun chicken jambalaya

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Meat mains

Cajun chicken jambalaya

Main Serves 2 45 min
Jambalaya is a Southern US dish, that's often served with seafood, but can be made just using meat. We've gone for a healthy version with chicken breast, but still with the traditional paprika, cayenne and herb spicing, and the jambalaya veg trinity of onion, pepper and celery. The dish should be quite spicy, but of the chilli flakes, as we've already put some cayenne in the spice mix.

Cook's notes

By the end of cooking you want the rice to have absorbed enough liquid to be just tender (NB brown rice does have bite to it when cooked) and for the mix to be slightly sloppy – something akin to a risotto texture, but a little drier.



  • 1 red onion
  • 2 peppers
  • 2 celery sticks
  • oil for frying, e.g. sunflower or light olive
  • 300g diced chicken breast
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 150g brown basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes – add none, some or all
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 1 lemon
  • 30g parsley
  • salt and pepper

Cajun spice mix, made up of

  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • pinch cayenne
  • ¼ tsp paprika
Image of Cajun chicken jambalaya


Prep time: 5 min
Cooking time: 40 min
  • Step 1

    Peel and finely dice the red onion. Wash the celery and chop into 1cm pieces. Wash the pepper, cut in half, deseed and chop into chunky bite-size pieces, about 3cm. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy-based pan (or use a large, deep frying pan). Add the chicken and fry to brown it.
  • Step 2

    Don't crowd the pan or it will sweat rather than fry. Cook in 2 batches if needs be. Remove it to a plate. Add a splash more oil to the pan if needed, and then the onion, celery and peppers. Fry on a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring now and then to stop it catching.
  • Step 3

    Add a splash of water if it looks like it might. Meanwhile, peel and finely chop, grate or crush 1 garlic clove. Rinse the rice in a sieve under cold water (to remove excess starch).
  • Step 4

    After 10 minutes, add the tomato purée, rice, garlic, Cajun spice mix and chilli flakes if using (they are spicy, so see cook's note; if you're not sure, add a pinch then taste and add more towards the end). Stir for 1 minute.
  • Step 5

    Add the tin of chopped tomatoes. Refill the tin twice with water and add that too. Crumble in the stock cube. Season with a little salt and pepper. Bring the mixture up to a low boil. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring now and then.
  • Step 6

    You shouldn't need to add any extra liquid if you have the heat right, but hobs do vary, so keep an eye as it cooks and add more water if needs be. By the end you want the rice to have absorbed enough liquid to be just tender (see cook's note) and for the mixture to be slightly sloppy, not too dry.
  • Step 7

    After 15 minutes, stir in the chicken and any juices from the plate. Cook for a further 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through (no pink juices remain) and the rice tender. Meanwhile, wash and shake half the pack of parsley dry.
  • Step 8

    Roughly chop the leaves. Once the jambalaya is cooked, add a squeeze of lemon juice to taste, to brighten the dish. Stir in the parsley, reserving a little to sprinkle on top if you like. Check the seasoning and serve.

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