Jambalaya [juhm-buh-LI-yah; jam-buh-LI-yah] One of CREOLE cookery's hallmarks, jambalaya is a versatile dish that combines cooked rice with a variety of ingredients including tomatoes, onion, green peppers and almost any kind of meat, poultry or shellfish. The dish varies widely from cook to cook. It's thought that the name derives from the French jambon , meaning "ham," the main ingredient in many of the first jambalayas.