How to cook Valencian Paella. Original ingredients used.

You have surely heard about paella before. That Mediterranean dish with rice as main ingredient and that can be cooked in many varieties.

Almost in any part of the Spanish Mediterranean coast you can find paella in the restaurants because this is part of the local tradition. In most of the households paella is cooked mainly on Sundays, when families get together, and at special occasions and celebrations.

In the XX century, popularity of this dish has transcended borders and now it’s known, and cooked, in many different countries in the world. At the same time, many variations of the original recipe have been created while keeping the same name, although these variations have little to do with the original dish that was born centuries ago by the Mediterranean sea, in the region surrounding Valencia in Spain.

Therefore, it’s good to remind from time to time what the original ingredients are and why there were chosen to be part of the recipe.

Traditional paella is made of rice, meat, vegetables and seasoning.


Rice is the key element and it’s discussed in a separate Page in this Site.


As meat, we mainly have chicken and rabbit. We can also have duck, which makes it very tasty.

In some occasions, snails are also used, since they are part of the traditional food of this region. They bring a very special flavor and taste, something different and much appreciated by the people who take the chance to eat them. As a person born in this region, I think it’s worth trying :-)


Vegetables used are the ones that have always been available to the inhabitants of that region. They are tomatoes, wide green beans, white lima beans and white beans.

These are the original ones, and the ones that give the proper flavor to the rice and meat.

Since this dish is basically made of meat and fresh vegetables, in other areas they have used or added other different vegetables, as peas, fresh pepper (green or red) or artichokes, among others. Each of them brings a different taste and become variations of the original recipe.


To add special flavor to the dish, there are basic spices used. The main one is saffron.

We get the best results with natural saffron strands. It gives flavor and color to the cooking. Since this is expensive, there are in the market very good products that make similar results. They are called saffron colorants and their use is widespread in this region where paella is cooked weekly in almost every house.
Apart from saffron, salt and fresh rosemary are used as the final touch of flavor.

Hope you will adventure in cooking this well known dish. You will discover the real taste of the Mediterranean.


Maria Brull

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