Paella is a Spanish rice dish originally from Valencia. Paella is one of the best-known dishes in Spanish cuisine. For this reason, many non-Spaniards view it as Spain’s national dish, but Spaniards almost unanimously consider it to be a dish from the Valencian region. Valencians, in turn, regard paella as one of their identifying symbols.
Paella takes its name from the wide, shallow traditional pan used to cook the dish on an open fire. Paella means “frying pan” in Catalan and Spanish. As a dish, it may have ancient roots, but in its modern form it is traced back to the mid-19th century, in the rural area around the Albufera lagoon adjacent to the city of Valencia, on the east coast of Spain.
Paella valenciana is the traditional paella of the Valencia region, believed to be the original recipe, and consists of round grain rice, bajoqueta and tavella (varieties of green beans), peas, rabbit, chicken, sometimes duck and garrofó (a variety of lima or butter bean) cooked in olive oil and chicken broth. The dish is (sometimes) seasoned with whole rosemary branches. Traditionally, the yellow color comes from saffron, but turmeric and calendula can be used as substitutes. Artichoke hearts and stems may be used as seasonal ingredients.
Paella de marisco (seafood paella) replaces meat with seafood and omits beans and green vegetables, while paella mixta (mixed paella) combines meat from livestock, seafood, vegetables, and sometimes beans, with the traditional rice.
Other popular local variations of paella are cooked all through the Mediterranean area, the rest of Spain and internationally.
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