I was introduced to Spanish food two years back and there was no looking back. However, it was the Chorizo and seafood paella at Borough Market (Monchichi of 'Not another big menu' has given a nice description of Borough Market) that blew my mind away. Ro and myself used to frequently have lunch dates at Borough Market and if it wasn't the Thai curry stall, then it was definitely Paella and Sangria for lunch on Fridays. I never in my dreams thought I'd actually attempt making paella at home, but after doing some research online, I decided to give it a shot anyways, only to realize its one of the easiest meal preparations, especially because you can add in veggies and meat and what not and have it on its own. There was no hassle of gravy or side dish, just a glass (well a bottle in our case) of Rioja wine and we were happy!
Now, I have made two versions of it. One is the veggie version and the other a chorizo and shrimp version, both equally tasty and not out-of-the-way difficult.
Garlic- 4 pods, crushed and chopped into tiny slices
Courgette- 1 medium, sliced into small cubes
Red pepper- 1, cut into long thin strips (I used one red sweet pointed pepper)
Button mushrooms- 1/2 cup, cleaned and sliced
Jalapeño pepper- 1 large, roughly chopped (optional)
Tomato- 2 large, roughly chopped
Paprika- 1 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp (more if you want a stronger colour)
Cumin powder- 1 tsp
Dried chilli's - 4, crushed
Paella rice/ risotto rice- 1 1/2 cups
Vegetable/ chicken broth/ water- 3 cups (hot)
Frozen peas- a handful
Spring onions/ scallions- 4, white part roughly chopped
Parsley- a few sprigs for garnish (optional)
Olive oil- 2 tbsp
Salt- to taste
Heat the olive oil in a container (big enough to hold the rice) and sauté the onions till soft and fragrant.
Add the garlic and continue sautéing for a few more minutes.
In goes the courgette, red pepper, mushrooms and jalapeño pepper. Cook on medium heat till the veggies are slightly cooked, stirring in between.
Add the chopped tomatoes and keep stirring. Cook till the oil starts to separate.
Add the paprika, turmeric and cumin powder, dried chilli flakes and salt. Combine well, making sure the veggies are all coated well.
Add the paella rice and mix well, stirring for about 3 to 4 minutes, till the rice begins to slightly crackle.
Add the hot stock/ water at this point. Give it a mix, close the lid and cook on medium to high flame till the rice is cooked through. If its starts burning or sticking to the vessel, pour some more water. Its ok if the mix is lightly mushy and loose, that's how the consistency should be.
Check for salt spice, add if required.
Add the frozen peas towards the end, about 3 minutes before you take it off the flame. Stir well and just before serving throw in the scallions and garnish with parsley leaves.
Non- veg version
Spanish chorizo- 3/4 cup, diced
Shrimp- 200gms, de-veined and cleaned
In a frying pan, cook the chorizo slices for 5 to 6 minutes or until soft.
Add the shrimp to this and cook on high heat for a few minutes. The oil oozing out of the paella will give a nice flavour to the shrimp and will also cook it.
Drain on paper towels. Keep aside.
At the stage where you add the green peas to the rice mix, add the cooked chorizo and shrimp and give it a final stir.
Edited to add: this pic got tastespotted and foodgawked:)Notes: Any vegetable of your choice can be used, for example, zuccini, asparagus, beans etc.
Any meat and seafood of your choice can also be included. Mussels, squid, chicken etc. are very popular
I did not have stock with me, so I used water. It turned out perfectly fine. Next time however I would like to add about a half cup white wine as well.
Paella is actually made in a paella dish which I didn't have. I guess a heavy-based saucepan would be your closest bet.