Spain’s National Dish, “Paella”, has the magical charm of bringing family and friends together. This is a single dish that has a little bit of everything. There is rice, veggies, meat, seafood, and herbs. When everything combines with the aromatic saffron, it results in a mouth-watering rich tasty cuisine. The backyard of Spanish folks is often turned into a fun-filled gathering where a huge pan is placed on the stove, to cook the paella. The slow cooking process releases the appetising fragrance and is served hot with everyone savouring the paella delightfully over random chit-chats & laughter.
The Special Paella Ingredients
In the traditional Valencian Paella recipe, small white round-shaped rice was used. The practice is still continued and packets of rice called Spanish rice or Paella rice is sold across the world. This rice used is always short-grained ones because it soaks up the water well. Long grained rice such as the Jasmine rice or Indian basmati rice variety is not suitable for cooking paella.
Authentically two types of green beans known as “Bajoqueta” & “Tavella” was used in paella. Over the years, with Paella turning out to be a delicious wholesome dish loved by people across nations, certain other vegetables have paved their way in the Paella-Pot.
The two main conventional kinds of meat that go into paella are chicken and rabbit meat. Now, rabbit meat being rare, duck meat or pork ribs are a great alternative that work into making the paella equally flavoursome. To achieve the beautiful dense and roasted caramelised texture of paella, the meat & veggies are fried in the pan till brown with extra virgin olive oil & slight seasoning of salt.
The Saffron & Few More Key Ingredients
Saffron is a chief ingredient of paella. The exquisite amazing roasted smell of the paella owes greatly to the exclusive Spanish saffron used in the recipe. Spanish Saffron is the most expensive in the world. They are different from other types of saffron because they are roasted instead of being sun-dried. Furthermore, the saffron strands can be harvested only in the spring season making it so costly.
The strong-smelling garlic with medical properties and, artichoke are two vital additions without which paella will not get its true authentic texture and zest.
Few rosemary twigs are added as the final herb to the paella making it all the more sweet-smelling.
The Yummy Socarrat
All the ingredients of Paella, vegetables, meat & herbs cook slowly in the chicken stock! Paella is not to be stirred after the rice is added. Stirring the rice releases its starch making the rice stodgy. As the rice rests in the chicken stock, all the oils, fat & starch smoothly sink to the base forming the yummy socarrat- the crispy yet slightly burnt rice that sticks to the pan’s bottom.
As adults and children swarm like bees around the pot, a serving of lovely tender rice, meat, veggies & socarrat, along with a slice of lemon fill their plate with a colourful scented wholesome steaming Spanish delight called “Paella”!