Gumbo is a soup or stew that is served alongside or on top of rice. Jambalaya is a casserole that is cooked in the same pot as the rice. They are both meat and rice dishes that originated in New Orleans.
|Dish type||Soup or stew served alongside rice||Casserole combined and cooked with rice|
|Rice||Cooked separately||Cooked in same pot|
Gumbo is made with vegetables such as okra, onions, celery and green pepper, meat and thickened stock. Different regions use different meats, including sausage, chicken, ham, crawfish and shrimp. It is thickened with roux, file powder or okra.
Jambalaya is a mix of meat and vegetables with rice and stock. It usually includes chicken, ham, smoked sausage, crawfish and/or shrimp. Creole jambalaya includes tomatoes, while Cajun jambalaya does not. Duck and beef are also used in some versions of this dish.
Although the traditional cooking style of gumbo and jambalaya include several ingredients which are high in calories and sodium, there are several healthier choices available, like, using brown rice instead of white rice, sesame or walnut oil for less trans and saturated fat etc.
|Gumbo with meat and rice (1 cup)||Jambalaya with meat and rice (1 cup)|
|Calories from fat||68||191|
Of the several variations of gumbo found around the world, these are some of the most common ones:
- Cajun gumbo - Dark roux burnt like color. Okra is used as roux and is often mixed with seafood, chicken, duck, and/or sausage as fowl. Fowl is generally not deboned, and onions, celery, and bell pepper are not strained out of the dish. Parsley and green onions are used as toppings. Cajun is mostly common in southwestern Louisiana.
- Creole gumbo - Seafood, tomatoes are used as thickeners. Creole is not as spicy as Cajun gumbo, as cayenne pepper is used much more sparingly.
- Gumbo z'herbes - A meatless version of gumbo made from turnips, mustard greens, and spinach. The dish is less popular as it was very time consuming to make.
Most common variations of Jambalaya include,
- Creole jambalaya - Also called "red jambalaya". Ingredients include chicken or sausage or seafood, celery, peppers, and onions. Tomatoes are added which brings the red color to the dish.
- Cajun jambalaya - Also called "brown jambalaya". Ingredients include meat or seafood, bell peppers, celery and onions. This dish does not include tomatoes, which results in the brown color of the dish.
- White jambalaya - A fast cooking dish where the meat and vegetables are cooked separately from the rice. At the same time, rice is cooked in a savory stock. It is added to the meat and vegetables before serving. Hence the term "white jambalaya."
How to Cook (Recipe videos)
In gumbo, the roux is mixed and cooked in a cast iron pot until brown. This takes 25 to 40 minutes with frequent stirring. The vegetables and meat are then added. It is simmered for hours and then served with rice that was cooked separately.
In jambalaya, the meat is cooked first, and then the vegetables: usually 50% onions, 25% green bell peppers and 25% celery. When the vegetables are translucent, the tomatoes and seafood are added. The rice is added to the pot towards the end of the cooking process, along with stock.
The etymology of Gumbo is uncertain and hence there are several plausible scenarios that point to the origin of Gumbo. One scenario suggests gumbo as a part of West African cooking, which uses okra frequently as a base for soups and often pairs okra with meat and shrimp, with salt and pepper as seasonings. In 1764, African slaves in Louisiana started mixing cooked okra with rice to make a meal. Another scenario suggests gumbo originated from a French dish called bouillabaisse (fish stew). These theories are often found in the local legends like the Frying Pan Revolt, or Petticoat Insurrection.
Creole jambalaya or red jambalaya originates from the French Quarter of New Orleans where the Spanish started using tomatoes as a cheaper replacement for Saffron, hence the red color of the dish. Cajun jambalaya or brown jambalaya originates from Louisiana's rural, low-lying swamp country where seafood, chicken and turkey was readily available. The white French Creoles introduced jambalaya to the Cajuns, but since tomatoes were rarely used in Cajun cooking, they omitted them, browning the meat for color instead.