Gumbo and jambalaya are two signature dishes of southern Louisiana that are both native to Cajun and creole cuisine. While the two cuisines are often used interchangeably, there are notable differences stemming from their cultural roots.
Creole refers to the original settlers of New Orleans whose parents were born in France or Spain. By and large, they were from wealthy families who may have had their own private chefs with access to local markets. Creole cuisine is sometimes referred to as "city cooking" due to its refined, more delicate preparation. There is greater attention on using cream, butter, seafood, tomatoes and garlic.
Cajun, on the other hand, is slang for "Acadian." Cajun people were descendants of Acadia, now known as Nova Scotia. After being banished for refusing to give up on their French ways, they settled in Southern Louisiana where French roots were already embedded. The Cajun people were known to live off the land, enjoying crawfish, shrimp, quail, okra and peppers. The majority of dishes are one-pot meals.
Some say the easiest way to tell Creole and Cajun apart is by the tomatoes. Generally, if it has tomatoes, it's creole. Creole gumbo has a tomato base and is more of a soup and Cajun gumbo has a roux base and is more of a stew. Cajun food is known for its spiciness, but it doesn't have to have a kick. Whether Cajun or Creole, it's cuisine that must be had!
Many Cajun and Creole dishes take a long time to prepare and cook, which is time we just may not have. Try this Chicken Creole recipe that only takes 20 minutes from start to finish!
20 Minute Chicken Creole
4 medium chicken breasts, skinless boneless, cut into 1-inch strips
1 (14 oz.) can no added salt tomatoes
1 cup chili sauce
1 ½ cups chopped green pepper
½ cup chopped celery
¼ cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon salt
Spray deep skillet with nonstick spray. Cook chicken in hot skillet stirring for 5 minutes or until no longer pink. Reduce heat. Add tomatoes and their juice, chili sauce, green pepper, celery, onion, garlic, basil, parsley, red pepper flakes, and salt. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered for 10 minutes. Serve over hot cooked rice or whole wheat pasta.
Yield: 4 servings
Nutritional analysis per serving: 255 Calories, 3 grams fat, 100 milligrams cholesterol, 465 milligrams sodium, 16 grams carbohydrate, 1.5 grams fiber, 31 grams protein
Source: National Institutes of Health