Paella is one of the forms of rice dishes which evolved into modern form in the mid nineteenth century, in one of the lagoons in Valencia, near a lake called Albufera located on Spain’s east coast,. This dish is very popular is Spain. People who do not belong to Spain consider it as national dish of Spain. On the contrary, Spaniards believe Paella as regional dish of Valencia.
History of Paella Recipes
Casseroles of fish, spices and rice were made by the inhabitants of Moorish Spain in order to serve religious fests and large gatherings. This helped in the establishment of the practice of consuming rice in Spain. As a result, rice became a staple food by the time of 15th century, when Muslims were expelled by Spanish Catholics. From thereon, it became a custom to prepare rice dishes in combination with various vegetables, beans and seafood. Hence, there was invention of paella.
Paella Recipes - Ingredients
The main ingredients that are used in almost all kinds of paella recipes include rice, seafood, meat, beans, vegetables, seasoning, snails, olive oil, and saffron
Most of the recipes include either all or a combination of some of the ingredients mentioned above. Olive oil and saffron are the ingredients that are used in preparing all kinds of paella. The rice that is used in preparing paella dish is bomba rice or calasparra rice.
Paella Recipes - Basic Preparation Method
As per Valencia’s tradition, paella is prepared by men in an open area, over open fire, which is fueled by pine and orange branches alongside pine cones. This results in the production of aromatic smoke, thus infusing the dish.
In case of all paella recipes, the pan’s bottom is layered with toasted rice and is believed to be a delicacy in Spain. Also, this is considered to be essential, so as to prepare good and tasty paella. Rice would be toasted at the pan’s bottom, while it is being cooked. The pan is removed from flame, as and when aromatic smoke of rice blows upwards. Paella is then allowed to sit for around five minutes. In most of the paella recipes, the dish is covered with towel during this time. This helps in absorbing the residual broth.
Note- If paella is cooked over open fire or over burner, toasted rice would be developed on its own. However, if this dish is prepared in oven, toasted rice would not be developed. The dish is allowed to cook over high flame.
Paella Recipes - Variations
The three popular kinds of paella include the following:
- Seafood paella – In Spain, it is called as valenciana. The chief ingredients used in this dish include seafood, white rice, and seasoning. Seafood broth is made first from onions, bay leaves, garlic and shrimp heads. Chopped cuttlefish, shrimp tails, garlic, grated tomatoes, rice, paprika, seafood broth, saffron and salt are added one after the other and stirred well in a pan with hot oil.. Already prepared shrimp, Norway lobster and mussels are added now. The dish is allowed to cook now at low flame.
- Valencian paella - In Spain, the dish is called as paella de marisco. The key ingredients used in this dish include green vegetables, white rice, meat (chicken, rabbit, and duck), land snails, beans and seasoning. Meat is fried, and salt and seasoning are added in paellera containing hot oil. Green vegetables, grated tomatoes, garlic, beans, paprika, saffron, water, rosemary and snails are added and cooked to crate broth. Rice is added and allowed to cook. The paella dish is ready now. It can be garnished with fresh rosemary.
- Mixed paella – Paella mexta is the term given to this type of dish in Spain. In this dish, a combination of white rice, seafood, meat and vegetables is used. Beans may be also used at times. A broth is made of chicken, seafood, garlic, onions bay leaf and bell peppers. Red bell peppers and Crustaceans are seared separately and kept aside. Meat is cooked and garlic, grated tomatoes, bell peppers, onions are added and fried until they become soft. Seasonings, rice, broth, salt and saffron are added one after the other and allowed to cook, and already seared crustaceans are added in the end. The dish is garnished with red bell pepper strips.