Infobox Prepared Food
name = Paella

caption = Above: Valencian paella; Below: seafood paella; both served in "paelleras"
alternate_name =
country = Spain
region = Valencia
creator =
course = main course
served = hot
main_ingredient = white rice
variations = Valencian
calories =
other = Popular throughout: Europe
Latin America
North America

Paella (IPA2|pa'eʎa) is an internationally famous dish consisting of white rice, meat, seafood, beans and vegetables (depending on the recipe) originating in the Valencian autonomous region of Spain. Spaniards view it as one of their country's national dishes.

The word "paella" derives from the Latin word "patella" for pan. "Patella" is also akin to the French "poêle", the Welsh "padell", the Italian "padella", the Old Spanish "padilla" and the New Mexican Spanish "puela" [ [ John M. Lipski:La lengua española en los Estados Unidos] : "... Unos nuevomexicanismos típicos son: ánsara 'ganso', ganso, cócano, jojolote 'pavo', puela 'sartén',..."] .

Valencians refer to both the recipe and the specialized shallow pan in which it is cooked as paella. However, outside of the Valencian region, "paellera" is the proper word for the pan. The "paellera" is traditionally a round, shallow pan, made of polished steel with two handles. [ [ Discussion in Spanish about the name of the pan and the recipe] ]

The two most popular types of paella are Valencian paella and seafood paella. Valencian paella consists of white rice, green vegetables, meat, beans and seasoning. Seafood paella replaces meat with seafood and omits beans and green vegetables. The varieties of rice used are usually Calasparra [,227,IN.html Delia Online - Rice] (accessed 12/04/2008)] [ - Paella Rice] (accessed 12/04/2008)] or Bomba. Other key ingredients include saffron, and olive oil.

This dish has become enormously popular throughout much of the Spanish-speaking world, including the Hispanic regions of the United States. It also enjoys moderate popularity throughout Western Europe.


The people of Al-Andalus often made casseroles of rice, fish and spices for family gatherings and religious feasts, thus establishing the custom of eating rice in Spain. This led to rice becoming a staple by the time the Catholics drove out the Muslims in the 15th century. Cooks combined rice with vegetables, beans and dry cod, providing an acceptable meal for Lent. Along the Spanish coast, fish always predominated with rice.

On special occasions, 18th century Valencians, who are Catalan speakers, used "paelleras" to cook rice in the open air of their orchards with vegetables of the season along with chicken, rabbit, duck and snails. Later, social life became more active with the sociological changes of the 19th century in Spain, giving rise to reunions and outings in the countryside. This early rice dish evolved into Valencian paella where it was customary for men to do the cooking. In 1840, a local newspaper first used the phrase "Valencian paella" to refer to the recipe rather than the pan. [ [ The Food Timeline presents a history of paella] ]

The most widely used ingredient list of the 19th century version is as follows: short-grain white rice, lima beans, chicken, rabbit, snails, duck (optional), "judía verde" (a wide, flat green bean common to Spain which is a subspecies of Phaseolus vulgaris), artichoke (a substitute for green beans in the winter), tomatoes, fresh rosemary, salt, paprika, saffron, olive oil and water. [ [ The Food Timeline presents a history of paella] ] It's these ingredients that Valencians insist go into making Valencian paella.

Eventually, Spaniards outside of the Valencian region saw the charm in this dish. Coastal residents began adding seafood to the traditional recipe and called it mixed paella. Mixed paella became popular outside of Spain. As other cultures set out to make paella, the dish invariably acquired regional influences. Consequently, paella went from being a relatively simple dish of rice, beans, meat and green vegetables to including seafood, various types of sausage (the most popular being Spanish chorizo), a wide range of vegetables and many different seasonings. [ [ An assortment of paella recipes] ] However, the most globally popular, non-Valencian recipe is seafood paella.

In Spain, mixed paella is very popular. Some restaurants that serve this mixed version refer to it as Valencian paella but Valencians insist only the original Valencian recipe can bear the name "paella valenciana".

Basic cooking methods

"For recipes, see ."

Valencian paella

This recipe is standardized because Valencians consider it traditional and very much part of their culture. Rice in Valencian paella is never braised in oil, as pilau, though the paella made further southwest of Valencia often is. [ [ A video demonstration in Spanish on how to make Valencian paella] ] [ [ Traditional Valencian recipe in Spanish] ]

*Heat oil.
*Sautee meat until golden brown.
*Add beans and green vegetables.
*Sautee for a few minutes.
*Add tomatoes and paprika.
*Sautee for two minutes.
*Add water and boil for 30 minutes to make broth.
*Add salt to taste.
*Add rice and then saffron.
*Cook until rice is done.
*Garnish with fresh rosemary.

eafood paella and mixed paella

Cooking methods vary greatly because these recipes are a derivations of the Valencian paella. However, the following method is common to most of these. Seasoning depends greatly on individual preferences and regional influences. Salt, saffron and garlic are almost always included. [ [ Mixed paella recipe] ]

*Make seafood broth and infuse with saffron.
*Heat oil.
*Sautee meat until golden brown.
*Make sofrito by sautéing bell peppers, garlic, onions and tomatoes with meat.
*Add seasoning except for salt.
*Sautee until vegetables are tender.
*Add rice.
*Braise rice until covered with sofrito.
*Add saffron-infused broth.
*Add salt to taste.
*Add seafood.
*Simmer for 30 minutes or bake for 15 minutes.
*Garnish with additional seafood and/or vegetables.

For both recipes

Once the rice is nearly done, the paella is removed from the heat and left to absorb the remaining water. Paella usually has a crispy, caramelized, toasted bottom ("socarrat" in Valencian) that is considered to be a delicacy. There are two ways to achieve a socarrat: The first is to time the evaporation of the water properly with the completion of the rice; the second is to use a high flame while listening to the rice toast at the bottom of the pan. The chef then removes the "paellera" from the heat once the aroma of toasted rice wafts upwards. The paella then must sit for about five minutes before serving.

Related traditions

It has become a custom [ [ The Food Timeline: history notes-international cuisine ] ] for mass gatherings in the Valencian region (festivals, political campaigns, protests, etc.) to prepare an enormous paella, sometimes to win a mention in the "Guinness Book of Records". Huge, gargantuan pans are commissioned for these cases.


The largest paella measured 20m (65ft 7in) in diameter and was made by Juan Carlos Galbis and a team of helpers in Valencia, Spain on 8 March 1992. It was eaten by 100,000 people. Paella and its variations are typical picnic dishes for the Valencian spring and summer. The dish is also typically consumed during the Falles in Valencia.


In the world of competitive cooking, paella pans are seldom usedFact|date=March 2008, save in Spain in the giant "Paella King" contest. This is an annual competition held in a different town in Galicia, Spain every year. Whoever makes the best paella is the "Paella King" for the year until the next competition.

Related dishes

*Arroz a la valenciana
*Arròs negre
*Fried rice

ee also

*Spanish cuisine
*Mediterranean cuisine
*Philippine cuisine


External Links

* [ Guiness World Records]

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • paella — [ paela; pae(l)ja ] n. f. VAR. paëlla • 1868; répandu mil. XXe; mot esp. « poêle » ♦ Plat espagnol composé de riz épicé (safran, poivre de Cayenne) cuit dans un poêlon avec des moules, des crustacés, des viandes, du chorizo, etc. ● paella nom… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • paëlla — paella [ paela; pae(l)ja ] n. f. VAR. paëlla • 1868; répandu mil. XXe; mot esp. « poêle » ♦ Plat espagnol composé de riz épicé (safran, poivre de Cayenne) cuit dans un poêlon avec des moules, des crustacés, des viandes, du chorizo, etc. ● paella… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • paella — sustantivo femenino 1. Guiso valenciano de arroz, sin caldo, con legumbres, carne o pescado y azafrán: paella valenciana, paella de pollo, paella de mariscos. paella mixta Paella que lleva carne y marisco …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • Paella? — Paëlla Chimicos Paella Chimicos, ou, depuis 2000, Paella?, de son vrai nom Michel Palacios, né en 1962, est un artiste français. Il prend son pseudonyme (anagramme de son nom) en 1985, date à laquelle il intègre le collectif des artistes des… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • paella — (n.) 1892, from Catalan paella, from O.Fr. paele (Mod.Fr. poêle, from L. patella pan, dish (see PATELLA (Cf. patella)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • paella — (Del valenciano paella). 1. f. Plato de arroz seco, con carne, pescado, mariscos, legumbres, etc., característico de la región valenciana, en España. 2. Sartén en que se hace …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • Paella — er en spansk risret der laves af kød, fisk, skaldyr med mere og krydres med safran …   Danske encyklopædi

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