Paella (Original version)

Submitted by:
Carla Fuster Garcia, Freiburg, Germany

Image Source: Author


Paella pan (better at least 55cm diameter), and burning ring/propan gas bottle (or fire if you are an expert). You can also try in the stove for smaller ones (2 people).

Rice (round variety, similar to one used for milk rice or risotto, originally in Spain called "redondo" or "bomba"), aprox. 100g/person
Chicken (or a mix of chicken/rabbit, if available), 1kg total
Flat beans (long green and flat beans), one or two handfulls/person
Garrofón (big white beans similar to the lima bean or butter bean), a small handfull/person
2 garlic cloves
200-300ml olive oil
2 tomatoes (better Roma variety)
Pinch of saffron, toasted (if you cannot find roasted, put it within aluminium foil, fold it and "burn" it for a few sconds with a lighter)
1 tablespoon sweet paprika

1. If the white beans are dried ones, they should be put in water at least the day before. Boiling them afterwards for about 20-30 minutes will help to soften them. Alternatively, canned/preboiled ones can be used directly.

2. Cut the chicken/rabbit in chunks of about 5-8 cm. Better use the parts with bones that are more juicy, and not the breast part which is rather dry.

3. Cut the flat beans in pieces of about 5 cm, mince the garlic, and grate the tomatoes

4. Add the oil to the pan and fry the meat with salt until it is very well done (as if ready to eat), then take out from the pan and reserve in a dish (or simply move aside to the border of the pan).

5. Add the flat green beans and stir fry for a couple of minutes, then push aside to the border of the pan where there is less heat.

6. Add the minced garlic to the pan and slightly cook it, then add the paprika and stir fry for about 15-30 seconds (careful, the paprika burns very easily, so don´t overcook it). Immediately after add the grated tomatoes and cook until the tomato paste looks condensed and the water from it has evaporated.

7. If the meat was set aside, put it again on the pan. Add the equivalent of three rice-volumes of water and salt (to taste). Sometimes the water volume its just the double than rice, but this depends of the rice variety used, since each type is able to absorb different amounts of water. The trick for a good paella is to know your rice and know your pan. So, practice it is!

8. Once the water has been added, measure the height of it in the pan with a toothpick (or by making any mark in the pan). This will be your reference for the timepoint to add the rice later.

9. Add plenty more of water and the saffron, and let it boil for 5 minutes, then add the white beans and keep boiling softly until the water reaches your mark. Ideally, the water should be reducing slowly and boiling for at least 30 minutes. With this you will get a broth from the meat and the veggies that will give the dish its rich flavour.

10. Once the water reaches again the mark (the one equivalent to 3 volumes of rice), taste the broth and check if it needs more salt. Then add the rice to the pan and quickly distribute all ingredients evenly. From this moment on, do not stir at all (if you do so the starch from the rice will come out and the paella will turn out gummy!). Simply let it cook with strong heat for 5 minutes, then lower the heat and keep cooking for another 13 minutes. You can also add a few branches of rosemary on top at the last cooking minutes.

11. Once it is finished, turn the heat off, and let the paella sit for 5-10 minutes before eating.

The perfect paella will have a slightly "scorched" layer on the bottom rice layer, very crunchy and delicious, which is called "socarrat" in our regional language.



Paella is a famous dish from my city of origin, Valencia, and it is much beloved among the world.
The original recipe is made with chicken and rabbit. There are many varations of paella, including the winter version that is made with artichokes, or the seafood paella, which is more common in Alicante and the one preferred by foreigners.
I wanted to share the real paella recipe, because despite it being such a famous dish worldwide, most of the recipes you can find in internet are false. You are welcome to make some modifications, my favorite version is one made with duck and wild mushrooms. But there are some limitations! Bear in mind, everytime someone adds chorizo or green peas to a paella, you can feel a Spaniard cringing somewhere!

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