Purple Jambalaya!

Maybe calling it “purple” is being generous, but it’s not exactly black either. This is a recipe I pulled together from a few sources, the most helpful being The Gumbo Pages. I consider this website the bible of online Cajun & Creole food. The reason mine is this “special” color is that I used Forbidden Black Rice instead of white or converted rice. You can make this recipe with white or brown rice and your color palette will be way more traditional.

We grew up eating jambalaya regularly when we lived in Lafayette, LA. My mom used a seasoning mix (Oak Grove?) that is still the quintessential flavor, etched into my memory/taste buds early in life. This particular recipe (except for the purple part) is a scratch-recipe Cajun experience. There is “brown” jambalaya and “red” jambalaya, the difference being a lot of tomatoes and tomato paste in the red kind (red is more Creole/New Orleans vs. Cajun/elsewhere in Louisiana). I split the difference, adding some fresh diced tomatoes, but no paste.

1# sausage, traditionally andouille but I used Spanish chorizo to good effect
1# (ish) chicken, 1″ pieces – I used raw white and dark meat (you can also use leftover cooked chicken and just add it in at the end)
1 yellow onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced (include minced leaves from celery heart if available)
1 green pepper, diced (I used 1/2 green and 1/2 red)
1 ancho pepper, diced (skip this if you want, but I love the flavor change from green bell)
1 jalapeno, diced (removed seeds if you don’t want it extra hot)
1 small head of garlic (about 8-10 cloves), minced
1 12-16oz can diced tomatoes
2 fresh tomatoes, diced
8 cups homemade chicken stock (use the boxed kind if absolutely necessary)
Cajun spices – be careful here: most of the normal “blends” have a ton of salt in them…I like to buy the salt-free kind and then add my own salt as needed. You can also make your own blend (2 teaspoons cayenne, 2 teaspoons black pepper, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon thyme)
4 c. White Rice, long grain or converted (or go crazy and use Forbidden Black Rice…I just like saying “Forbidden Black Rice” )

Start by sauteeing the sausage on med heat with a little peanut or canola oil. While cooking, coat the chicken pieces in the cajun seasoning – add salt if your spice mix doesn’t include it. Remove the sausage from pan when cooked and put the chicken into the fat/juices in pan and cook until mostly done. Remove the chicken and add the onion, celery, and peppers. This should all start to smell wonderful.

When the vegetables are soft and slightly browned, add the garlic, stirring to make sure it doesn’t stick and burn in the pan. Follow after a minute or two with the fresh tomatoes and canned tomatoes and a cup or two of the chicken stock. Scrape the bottom of the pan at this point to get up all the browned bits. Allow this to simmer for a few minutes, then add 2-3 T. of cajun seasoning and the rest of the stock. Allow this to come to a boil, then simmer for ten minutes to develop the flavor.

Add the meats back in (add shrimp at this point if you’d like) and taste for seasoning (especially salt). Add the rice. Cover the pan (with a lid or a tight covering of foil) and allow to simmer on med-low heat for 20-25 minutes. Jambalaya is ready when the rice is cooked through. If it is still too soupy for your tastes, allow to simmer with the lid/foil off and it will thicken up. Enjoy with a cold beer and some crusty French bread. An original one pot meal.

P.S. Husband was pretty turned off by the color. He doesn’t love purple as much as I do. He’s still eating it, though, so it can’t be that bad. Heh.



  1. marcia said

    I think you should write a cookbook called Cooking Without Bell Peppers–or maybe Bell Pepper Free Cuisine.

    I have to say I don’t find Forbidden Black Rice very appealing (although I agree it is fun to say). I’m sure it tastes great, but the color isn’t very appetizing. Maybe you should come visit and make this for me so I can stop judging it by its looks. 😉

  2. I’ll stick some of this jambalaya in the freezer for you, altho this probably isn’t the best way to introduce you to it if you are already squeamish. I’d suggest it under a nice grilled piece of fish for the first sampling…


  3. Heather said

    Hey-so happy to see it! It’s a little monochromatic but it looks delicious. I wish I had some right now for breakfast.

    I think that the bell pepper free cookbook would be a big seller but that was sarcasm, right? I mean, that reads like you’re putting in bell peppers…

    How is forbidden rice usually served?

  4. Katy mitchell said

    I absolutely love this recipe and have made it many times. I tweek it a bit. Add a this or two depending on what I have handy. Non of it goes to waste ever. It’s pure genius.

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