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Title: Paella  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Valencian cuisine, Arroz a la valenciana, Philippine cuisine, Valencia, Spanish cuisine
Collection: National Dishes, Seafood Dishes, Spanish Rice Dishes, Spanish Words and Phrases, Valencian Cuisine
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


A red, mixed paella with mussels
Course Main course - Lunch
Place of origin Spain
Region or state Valencia
Serving temperature Hot
Main ingredients

White rice, chicken, rabbit, vegetables (Valencian Paella)

White rice, seafood (Seafood Paella)
Other information Popular throughout:
Western Europe

Paella (: [paˈeʎa] or [pəˈeʎə], : [paˈeʎa], , or ) is a Valencian rice dish with ancient roots that originated in its modern form in the mid-nineteenth century near Albufera lagoon, a coastal lagoon in Valencia, on the east coast of Spain.[1] The dish is widely regarded as Spain's national dish, but most Spaniards consider it to be a regional Valencian dish; Valencians regard paella as one of their identifying symbols. Spanish food historian, Lourdes March, notes that the dish "symbolizes the union and heritage of two important cultures, the Roman, which gives us the utensil and the Arab which brought us the basic food of humanity for centuries."[2]

The three best known types of paella are Valencian paella (Spanish: paella valenciana), seafood paella (Spanish: paella de marisco), and mixed paella (Spanish: paella mixta), but there are many others as well. Valencian paella is believed to be the original recipe and consists of white rice, green vegetables, meat (chicken and rabbit), land snails, beans and seasoning such as saffron, rosemary and occasionally lemon. Optional ingredients include artichoke, pepper and chicken liver. Seafood paella replaces meats with seafood and omits beans and green vegetables. Mixed paella is a free-style combination of land animals, seafood, vegetables, and sometimes beans. Most paella chefs use calasparra[3][4] or bomba[4] rices. All types of paellas use olive oil.


  • Etymology 1
  • History 2
    • Moorish influence 2.1
    • Valencian paella 2.2
    • Seafood and mixed paella 2.3
  • Basic cooking methods 3
    • Valencian paella 3.1
    • Seafood paella 3.2
    • Mixed paella 3.3
    • For all recipes 3.4
  • Competitions and records 4
  • Similar dishes 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References and further reading 8
  • External links 9


Paella is a Valencian-Catalan[5][6][7] word which derives from the Old French word paelle for pan, which in turn comes from the Latin word patella for pan as well. Patella is also akin to the modern French poêle,[8] the Italian padella[9] and the Old Spanish padilla.[10]

Valencians use the word paella for all pans, including the specialized shallow pan used for cooking paellas. However, in most other parts of Spain and throughout Latin America, the term paellera is more commonly used for this pan, though both terms are correct, as stated by the Royal Spanish Academy, the body responsible for regulating the Spanish language in Spain.[11][12] Paelleras are traditionally round, shallow and made of polished steel with two handles.[13] A popular but inaccurate belief in Arabic-speaking countries is that the word paella derives from the Arabic word for leftovers, baqiyah, (Arabic script: بقية) because it was customary among the servants of Moorish kings to combine the leftovers of a banquet for royal guests, purportedly leading to a paella-like creation in Moorish Spain.[1]


Moorish influence

raw bomba rice

In [14]

Valencian paella

On special occasions, 18th century Valencians used calderos to cook rice in the open air of their orchards near lake Albufera. Water vole meat was one of the main ingredients of early paellas,[15] along with eel and butter beans. Novelist Vicente Blasco Ibáñez described the Valencian custom of eating water voles in Cañas y Barro (1902), a realistic novel about life among the fishermen and peasants near lake Albufera.[16]

Living standards rose with the sociological changes of the late 19th century in Spain, giving rise to gatherings and outings in the countryside. This led to a change in paella's ingredients as well, using instead rabbit, [14]

The most widely used, complete ingredient list of this era was as follows: short-grain white rice, chicken, rabbit, snails (optional), duck (optional), [14] (Poorer Valencians, however, sometimes used nothing more than snails for meat.) Valencians insist that only these ingredients should go into making modern Valencian paella.

Seafood and mixed paella

Traditional preparation of paella

On the Mediterranean coast, Valencians used seafood instead of meat and beans to make paella. Valencians regard this recipe as authentic as well. In this recipe, the seafood is served in the shell. A variant on this is paella del senyoret which utilizes seafood without shells. Later, however, Spaniards living outside of Valencia combined seafood with meat from land animals and mixed paella was born.[17] This paella is sometimes called "preparación barroca" (barroque preparation) due to the variety of ingredients and its final presentation.

During the 20th century, paella's popularity spread past Spain's borders. As other cultures set out to make paella, the dish invariably acquired regional influences. Consequently, paella recipes went from being relatively simple to including a wide variety of seafood, meat, sausage, (even chorizo)[18][19] vegetables and many different seasonings.[20] However, the most globally popular recipe is seafood paella.

Throughout non-Valencian Spain, mixed paella is very popular. Some restaurants in Spain (and many in the United States) that serve this mixed version, refer to it as Valencian paella. However, Valencians insist only the original two Valencian recipes are authentic. They generally view all others as inferior, not genuine or even grotesque.[17]

Basic cooking methods

According to tradition in Valencia, paella is cooked over an open fire, fueled by orange and pine branches along with pine cones. This produces an aromatic smoke which infuses the paella. Also, dinner guests traditionally eat directly out of the paellera.[1][14][17][21]

Some recipes call for paella to be covered and left to settle for five or ten minutes after cooking.

Valencian paella

Valencian paella

This recipe is standardized[21][22][23][24] because Valencians consider it traditional and very much part of their culture. Rice in Valencian paella is never braised in oil, as pilaf, though the paella made further southwest of Valencia often is.

  • Heat oil in a paellera.
  • Sauté meat after seasoning with salt.
  • Add green vegetables and sauté until soft.
  • Add garlic (optional), grated tomatoes, beans and sauté.
  • Add paprika and sauté.
  • Add water, saffron (and/or food coloring), snails and rosemary.
  • Boil to make broth and allow it to reduce by half.
  • Remove the rosemary once flavour has infused or it starts to fall apart.
  • Add rice and simmer until rice is cooked.
  • Garnish with more fresh rosemary.

Seafood paella

Seafood paella

Recipes for this dish vary somewhat, even in Valencia. Below is a recipe by Juanry Segui, a prominent Valencian chef.[25]

  • Make a seafood broth from shrimp heads, onions, garlic and bay leaves.
  • Heat oil in a paellera.
  • Add mussels. Cook until they open and then remove.
  • Sauté Norway lobster and whole, deep-water rose shrimp. Then remove both the lobster and shrimp.
  • Add chopped cuttlefish and sauté.
  • Add shrimp tails and sauté.
  • Add garlic and sauté.
  • Add grated tomato and sauté.
  • Add rice and braise in sofrito.
  • Add paprika and sauté.
  • Add seafood broth and then saffron (and/or food coloring).
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Replace the deep-water rose shrimp, mussels and Norway lobster.
  • Simmer until rice is cooked.

Mixed paella

Plate of paella with Aioli

There are countless mixed paella recipes. The following method is common to most of these. Seasoning depends greatly on individual preferences and regional influences. However, salt, saffron and garlic are almost always included.[26][27][28]

  • Make a broth from seafood, chicken, onions, garlic, bell peppers and bay leaf.
  • Heat oil in a paellera.
  • Sear red bell pepper strips and set aside.
  • Sear crustaceans and set aside.
  • Season meat lightly with salt and sauté meat until golden brown.
  • Add onions, garlic and bell peppers. Sauté until vegetables are tender.
  • Add grated tomatoes and sauté.
  • Add dry seasonings except for salt.
  • Add rice.
  • Braise rice until covered with sofrito.
  • Add broth.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Add saffron (and/or food coloring) and mix well.
  • Simmer until rice is almost cooked.
  • Replace crustaceans.
  • Continue simmering until rice and crustaceans are finished cooking.
  • Garnish with seared red bell pepper strips.

For all recipes

After cooking paella, there is usually a layer of toasted rice at the bottom of the pan, called socarrat in Spain. This is considered a delicacy among Spaniards and is essential to a good paella. The toasted rice develops on its own if the paella is cooked over a burner or open fire. If cooked in an oven, however, it will not. To correct this, place the paellera over a high flame while listening to the rice toast at the bottom of the pan. Once the aroma of toasted rice wafts upwards, remove it from the heat. The paella must then sit for about five minutes (most recipes recommend the paella be covered with a tea-towel at this point) to absorb the remaining broth.

Competitions and records

Guinness World Record 1992 in Valencia

It has become a custom at mass gatherings in the Valencian Community (festivals, political campaigns, protests, etc.) to prepare enormous paellas, sometimes to win mention in the Guinness Book of World Records. Chefs use gargantuan paelleras for these events.

Valencian restaurateur Juan Galbis claims to have made the world's largest paella with help from a team of workers on 2 October 2001. This paella fed about 110,000 people according to Galbis' former website.[29] Galbis says this paella was even larger than his earlier world-record paella made on 8 March 1992 which fed about 100,000 people. Galbis's record-breaking 1992 paella is listed in Guinness World Records.[30]

Similar dishes

Arròs negre (also called arroz negro and paella negra)

Traditional Valencian cuisine offers recipes similar to paella valenciana and paella de marisco such as arròs negre, arròs al forn, arròs a banda and arròs amb fesols i naps. Fideuà is a noodle dish variation of the paella cooked in a similar fashion, though it may be served with allioli sauce.

The following is a list of other similar rice dishes:

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Info about Paella on". 15 December 2009. Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  2. ^ March, Lourdes (1999), "Paella", in Davidson, Alan, The Oxford Companion to Food, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 566–567,  
  3. ^ Delia Online -Rice(accessed 12 April 2008)
  4. ^ a b – Paella Rice(accessed 12 April 2008)
  5. ^ "Diccionario de la Real Academia Española's (DRAE) definition and etymology of Paella". Retrieved 2012-10-11. 
  6. ^ "Merriam Webster's definition and etymology of the word paella". Retrieved 2012-06-08. 
  7. ^ "The American Heritage Dictionary's definition and etymology of the word paella". Retrieved 2013-11-24. 
  8. ^ on Retrieved 2013-11-26poêleOrigin of
  9. ^ Etymology of "padella" on Dizionario Etimologico Online. Retrieved 2013-11-26
  10. ^ "Meaning of the Spanish word ''padilla''". Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  11. ^ paelleraThe Royal Spanish Academy's definition of
  12. ^ paellaThe Royal Spanish Academy's definition of
  13. ^ "El recipiente". Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  14. ^ a b c d Lynne Olver (16 September 2009). "The Food Timeline presents a history of paella". Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  15. ^ Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, La cocina de los mediterráneos, Ediciones B – Mexico
  16. ^ "César Besó Portalés, ''Vicente Blasco Ibáñez y el Naturalismo'', I.E.S. Clara Campoamor, Alaquás (Valencia)". Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  17. ^ a b c Tu nombre. "Arroz SOS presents a history of paella". Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  18. ^ Mario Batali's version of mixed paella with chorizo Retrieved 2011-6-30
  19. ^ Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence. "Foodnetwork's paella recipe with seafood, chicken and chorizo". Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  20. ^ "An assortment of paella recipes". Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  21. ^ a b "Chef Juanry Segui cooks a Valencian paella over an open fire". Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  22. ^ Juan Galbis' recipe for Valencian paella
  23. ^ Marquès, Vicent (2004): Els millors arrossos valencians. Aldaia: Edicions Alfani.
  24. ^ "Author Jason Webster's method for making Valencian paella". Retrieved 2010-12-28. 
  25. ^ "Chef Juanry Segui's recipe for seafood paella". Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  26. ^ "Mixed paella recipe". Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  27. ^ "A Spanish grandmother near Madrid cooks her mixed paella recipe on video". Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  28. ^ websiteHay RecetasMixed paella recipe on the
  29. ^ Info on about world record paella
  30. ^ "Galbis's 1992 record listed on the Guinness website". Retrieved 2010-02-19. 

Blog on cooking paella:

References and further reading

  • March,, Lourdes (1985). El Libro De La Paella Y De Los Arroces. Madrid: Alianza.  
  • Ríos, Alicia and Lourdes March (1992). The Heritage of Spanish Cooking. New York: Random House.  

External links

  • Paella and the Carnestoltes Carnival in Catalonia, Spain
  • Traditional Paella, from Valencia, Spain
  • Paella Recipe
  • Original Paella Recipe from Valencia Spain
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