Gumbos reflect the essence of Cajun food – using very little to serve many. Although gumbos tend to look alike, each one has its own unique flavour. Gumbo derives its name from the slave word for okra, and many gumbos use either okra or file, as a thickening agent although file adds no flavour. Very often gumbo is served in a bowl, over rice, with a salad on the side, although in restaurants it has become customary to serve it as a first course, similar to a soup. Although okra is only available in summer, it freezes well for all-year round use (alternatively use tinned okra). At Wickedfood Cooking School we use this basic recipe for a wide variety of gumbos in our Cajun cooking classes – add a few sliced Russian sausages, or substitute pork, goat or seafood for the chicken.

1 large chicken, cut into about 10 pieces
Salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper, to taste
4T oil for frying
Okra gumbo base:
Vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 green pepper, coarsely chopped
500g fresh okra, sliced ±1cm thick
1 clove garlic chopped
4T flour
3 large tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
1t vinegar
2 cups chicken stock or water
Salt and pepper to taste

  • Season the chicken well with the spices.
  • Heat the oil in a heavy-based pot. Fry the chicken pieces, a few at a time, until well browned, then set aside.
  • Add the onion, pepper and okra, and sprinkle the flour over the top.  Fry, stirring consistently over a low heat, until the oil starts to rise to the top, and the onion is soft, about 20 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, tomatoes, vinegar and stock, together with the browned chicken, cover and cook over a low heat until the chicken is tender, with a consistency of thin cream (±45 minutes).

Wickedfood Cooking School runs cooking classes throughout the year at its purpose-built Johannesburg cooking studio. Cookery classes are run in the mornings and evenings 7 days a week (subject to a minimum of 12 people). The venue is also popular for corporate events and private functions – teambuilding cooking classes, birthdays, kitchen teas, and dinner parties with a difference. Our cooking lessons are hands-on, where every person gets to participate in the preparation of the dishes. They are also a lot of fun where you not only learn new skills, but get to meet people with similar interests. For corporate groups and team building cooking classes these events are a novel way of creating staff interaction or entertaining clients. We’ve just launched a new and exciting  class, Wickedfood Master Cook. Think Master Chef with a fun twist.