Some like it hot, some don’t. Personally I love spicy food. Now when I say ‘spicy food’ I mean food with a bit of a kick. You know, a nice warming sensation, maybe even breaking into a very light sweat at a push. What I certainly do not mean is a burning feeling that starts as soon as that chilli hits your tongue right until the moment it leaves your system. Sorry to go there, but come on, we’ve all experienced it haven’t we? Why someone would choose to inflict this kind of pain on themselves is beyond me. Of course everyone has a different level of tolerance when it comes to chilli, I’d say mine is fairly high, but I know that if my mouth if on fire from a couple of bites, things probably aren’t going to end well.
On the other hand though, I have learnt from my travels through South East Asia that no spice is NOT nice. I say I learnt this, not really me but a good friend of mine with a huge dislike of all things spicy. Every meal she ordered she would ask for absolutely no spice which would ultimately result in a very boring, tasteless plate of food. I guess the lesson learnt here is that some food needs to be spicy. Asking for no spice is Thailand is kind of like asking for no egg in an omelette, it just isn’t going to work.
I feel jambalaya is one of those dishes that needs a bit of spice to make it work. I use a combination of fresh red chilli, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and cumin in mine, but feel free to play around and try different spices and quantities to suit your taste buds. I would rate this dish as medium verging on hot on the spice scale so perhaps base your version around that. If it turns out a bit too spicy, don’t worry, it’s nothing a dollop of natural yoghurt can’t sort out.
3 chicken breasts, diced
1 red onion, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 red chilli, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Half a teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon sundried tomato paste
400ml chicken stock
400g chopped tomatoes
250g long grain rice
Salt and pepper
- Pour a couple of glugs of olive oil into a large saucepan (make sure you have a lid for it) and fry the chicken until lightly browned over a medium to high heat.
- Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and keep to one side.
- Add the onion and red pepper and fry until soft. Next add in the chopped garlic and fresh chilli and fry for a further minute.
- Throw in the smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin and sundried tomato paste and mix well.
- Next pour in the chicken stock and chopped tomatoes and bring to boil. Add the chicken back into the pan with the uncooked rice, stir well and then pop on the lid and turn down to a simmer. Leave for 20 minutes, or until rice is cooked.
- Season with salt and fresh black pepper.