This paella is a colourful medley of vegetables, rice, and beans, infused with saffron, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, and a hint of sweetness from raisins. It’s a Moroccan spiced meal bursting with flavours, topped with fresh cilantro, crushed chilli peppers, and crunchy sliced almonds.
Paella is a Spanish rice dish that originated in the mid-19th century on the east coast of Spain, near the city of Valencia. It is often cooked in a round shallow pan and when made authentically, it’s cooked over an open fire (recipe below is a quick stove top version). Paella has become one of the most popular global dishes with endless variations, depending on regional influences. Although the ingredients can vary greatly, the spice saffron is almost always included. Saffron is often known as the world’s most expensive spice. It provides a delicate flavour and vibrant yellow colour to the dish it’s added to.
I created this Moroccan inspired paella after receiving a lovely package of saffron from my new sister in law. Yes, surprise! I have a new sister in law that I haven’t officially met yet, except for a few Skype chats. My brother in law has been teaching in Abu Dhabi since last October. While there he fell in love with a beautiful Moroccan woman, then a few months later they happily eloped. Of all the adventures he’s had while traveling the globe, I bet this one has been the best!
All of us back home are excited to meet her while they visit Vancouver this Summer. As the Spanish food historian, Lourdes March, famously noted that the paella dish “symbolizes the union and heritage of two important cultures”. I found that rather fitting, as we welcome someone to our family and celebrate the union of two special people. So this recipe is a shout out to the newest member of our family, and to let her know we welcome her with open arms and warm hearts.
Note: Paella is great dish to make when you have a variety of vegetables to use up. So be creative and toss in whatever veggies you have on hand or spice combinations you can imagine. Then let us know in the comments below if you’ve created a share worthy combo!
- ½ tsp Saffron Threads (plus ¼ cup warm water)
- 1 tsp Grapeseed Oil
- 1 Large Onion, diced
- 1-1/2 cups Mushrooms, diced
- 2 Red Peppers, diced
- 2 Large Carrots, peeled and diced
- 1-1/2 cups Frozen Green Peas
- 1-1/2 cup Black Beans (or chickpeas, white beans, etc)
- 4 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- ½ tsp Ginger
- ½ tsp Paprika
- ½ tsp Salt
- ¼ tsp Pepper
- 2 cups Brown Rice, uncooked
- 3 cups Low Sodium Veggie Broth or Water
- ¼ cup Raisins
- ¼ cup Cilantro
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- Chopped Cilantro
- Crushed chilli peppers
- Sliced Almonds
- Using a motar and pestle or your fingers, crumble the saffron threads into smaller pieces. In a small bowl, add ¼ cup warm water with the saffron and put aside.
- In a stovetop pan, add oil, diced onions and mushroom. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and the mushrooms have browned.
- On high heat, add the diced peppers, carrots, green peas, black beans, garlic, and spices (cumin, cinnamon, ginger, paprika, salt, and pepper). Continue to stir until the vegetables have slightly browned.
- Reduce heat to medium and pour in the saffron infused water (along with the saffron bits), the broth and the uncooked rice. Stir well to incorporate, and bring to a boil.
- Then reduce heat to low, add the raisins, and simmer covered for 25 minutes.
- Remove lid and continue to simmer if all the liquid hasn't been absorbed yet.
- Stir in chopped cilantro and remove from heat. Cover and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve topped with extra cilantro, crushed chilli peppers, and sliced almonds.