Back in the 80s there was something of a “Cajun” craze here on the west coast. Restaurants added all kinds of “Cajun” dishes to their menus, like Blackened Swordfish, Red Beans and Rice, and these fantastic Cajun Chicken Fajitas I loved from a restaurant in Redondo Beach, CA. Without being unnecessarily dramatic, that dish literally changed my culinary life. Seriously. It woke me up to a whole new set of spices, flavors, and textures I’d never tried before. Magical.*
From across the restaurant I could hear that lucious entree sizzling LOUDLY as the waitperson made their way to my table. The fajitas were served on a flat black cast iron skillet — sliced spicy chicken breast with grilled onions and bell peppers on one side, small corn tortilla “cups” of sour cream, guacamole, and fresh tomato salsa, all nestled onto a bed of shredded lettuce and red cabbage on the other. A lidded dish was placed next to the plate with four warm tortillas inside. It was a hands-on meal to build onto each tortilla individually, layering the cabbage, lettuce, and salsa alongside the grilled, spicy, sliced chicken. It’s such a vivid memory that I can still picture the table where I sat. That flavor combination of spices and heat completely captivated me — it was the ONLY thing I every ordered at that restaurant.
Inexplicably, I never asked the chef for the recipe and after moving back to Washington state I searched for and experimented with a variety of spices to find that EXACT taste, that particular blend. This Cajun Spice is what I came up with.
Use this spice mix for Cajun Chicken Fajitas or try it with any type of meat. It’s fairly hot, so use caution! This recipe fills a standard spice jar to about 1/2 or 3/4, and will stay fresh in a tightly sealed jar for about 9 months.
2 T cayenne
2 T chili powder
2 T paprika
1 T curry powder
1 T black pepper
Put all spices into a bowl, stir thoroughly, and pour into a standard size spice jar. Seal tightly.
* The only other culinary “discovery” that affected me as strongly was my first taste of Thai Chicken Soup!