Whenever you think of Jambalaya, you are sure to be reminded of hearty, soul food. A bowl of goodness that is rich in flavour, packed with spices and made with love. In Malaysia, it’s not common to see jambalaya served in restaurants but its sumptuous taste and popularity is not to be trifled with. In fact, jambalayas have a following of their own in this country, especially amongst avid foodies.
What is Jambalaya
If you are not quite sure what a Jambalaya is, well it is essentially a bowl of rice cooked with vegetables, shrimp and meat as well as spices with Spanish, African and French influence. If you think it’s similar to a regular fried rice or the Spanish paella, well you’re wrong. The word, “jambalaya” itself comes from the word “jambalaia” which means a mix of things, and it also means rice.
The uniqueness of jambalaya is the flavour. There are two types of jambalaya – the Creole jambalaya or the Cajun jambalaya and the difference between is the seasoning used in the dish. The Cajun jambalaya originated from Louisiana’s rural area and it uses Cajun spices for the seasoning while the Creole jambalaya uses tomatoes, and “the holy trinity” which are onion, celery and bell pepper.
The rich history of Jambalaya
Jambalaya can be traced back to the West Africans living in New Orleans and it is where the term, “soul food” originated from. Jambalaya wasn’t originally made as a dish to impress anyone or served in restaurants, but it was made because the people in New Orleans needed a home cooked dish that was inexpensive and yet delicious to be served during family dinners.
The ingredients in a jambalaya are affordable and easy to get in New Orleans and the fact that it is cooked in one big pot means that you don’t have to spend so much time to cook separate dishes and meals.
While the Jambalaya has a Spanish and French influence to it, the New Orleans people have made it their by substituting some ingredients that are otherwise hard to get like the orange saffron commonly used to make the Spanish Paella.
Nutrients in a Bowl of Jambalaya
There’s a good reason why jambalaya quickly became a staple food of New Orleans and it’s not just because it is inexpensive to make but it packs a lot of nutrients too. The seafood and chicken are good sources of protein. In a typical jambalaya serving, you can get about 14 g of protein.
Vegetables such as tomatoes, okra and celery contains Vitamin A and C and the rice contains about 29 g of carbohydrates. Back in the day, food was mainly consumed as a source of energy to be able to do physical labour so it’s important for a meal to be both nutritious and energising.
Where to get Jambalaya in Malaysia
Preparing a bowl of jambalaya takes a lot of work. You will need to dice up different ingredients like chicken, celery, seafood and tomatoes and you need to make sure you have the right ratio of each ingredient to ensure the flavour is balanced. Not to mention, some of the spices might be hard to find at a typical supermarket like Giant or Tesco.
If you are up for a hearty bowl of jambalaya, you can head on to Good Monster in Mid Valley and dig in to their King Jambalaya – a bowl filled with seafood, yellow rice and mayo sauce. Best part is that you can even get it delivered!
If you want something that resemble the original dish, get the Seafood Jambalaya from Bait in Bangsar instead. Their Seafood Jambalaya is packed with Jumbo King Prawns, seafood, beef chorizo, okra and of course, long grain rice. It will definitely transport you to New Orleans.
Find more Western cuisine on foodpanda!