Spicy Andalusian Seafood Paella

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by Sara on October 22, 2010

My first authentic Paella experience was in the Spanish Andalusian city of Seville. I loved how the Paella had a spicy taste from Cayenne pepper which paired perfectly with the sweet & smoky flavors of Pimenton Spanish paprika & wood fire roasted Paquillo peppers. I used authentic Spanish ingredients which I brought back from Spain this past June like the Zaffarania Azafran Saffron from Granada, Nunez di Prado extra virgin olive oil from Cordoba, ‘La Odalisca Pimenton- sweet smoky paprika from Murcia. I wanted to give my Paella an authentic taste which takes me back to beautiful Andalusia everytime I re-create this recipe at home.

Many cultures have rice dishes that have become famous around various different culinary cultures around the world.  Arroz con Pollo from Spain, Biryani from India, Jambalaya from Louisiana, Pilaf or Pulao from the Middle East and Risotto from Italy.

Rice originated in Asia and, along with pasta, was brought to the Mediterranean by the Moors. When the Moors invaded Spain, they brought both products with them. The Moorish casseroles of rice and fish established the custom of eating rice in Spain. By the 15th century, when Spanish Catholics expelled the Muslims from Spain, rice had become a national staple.

I was particularly interested in what the Moors ate and how they influence the culinary history of Spain. The occupation of the Moors of Iberia had a great influence on the culinary development of Spain. Moors were the ones who introduced rice and they also brought with them & grew  figs, citrus fruits, many of the eastern spices like cumin and aniseed. They used Almonds & dried fruits in both savory & sweet dishes. Moors were cultured & sophisticated people who brought new way of life to Spain.

As I walked around the great city of the Moors called Granada and visited Alhambra Palace, I was in awe of what Moors had left behind and how lavishly and peacefully they lived.

Beautiful Andalusian City of Granada which is located on the Foothills of Sierra Nevada Mountains

Alhambra Palace~ A Lavish Moorish Palace~Truly a Marvelous Treasure that Moors have left behind.

Intricate carvings & pillars~ true workmanship of the Moors craftsmen


On a hill overlooking Granada, the Alhambra. A sprawling palace-citadel that comprised royal residential quarters, court complexes flanked by official chambers, a bath, and a mosque.

The construction of this Marvelous structure was begun in the thirteenth century by Ibn al-Ahmar, founder of the Nasrid dynasty, and was continued by his successors in the fourteenth century.

The romantic imagination of centuries of visitors has been captivated by the special combination of the slender columns, fountains, and  water basins found in those courtyards—the Lion Court in particular; this combination is understood from inscriptions to be a physical realization of descriptions of Paradise in Islamic poetry.

A must see when you are in Granada, Spain. We took  a 3 hour train from Seville to Granada. You will need to book for tickets in advance and need to be there on time for the entrance. We stayed one night at a gorgeous hotel called Alhambra Palace Hotel overlooking the Serene city of Granada.

I feel honored that my Paella recipe was picked for Editor’s Pick on Food52

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Cherine October 22, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Your paella looks marvelous!

Faith October 22, 2010 at 5:29 pm

I would absolutely love to visit Spain! Until I do, I’ll have to make this gorgeous paella. ;) Thanks for sharing your gorgeous pics of Granada!

Nadia October 22, 2010 at 5:43 pm

I would love to visit Spain, hopefully we’ll do a tour and hit up Spain, France, and Turkey next summer!

Your paella looks delicious. Usually they have sausage in them so I never eat paella at a restaurant might try your version. I will have to join Food 52 to “like” your version!

Sara October 22, 2010 at 6:48 pm

Thanks Nadia, Faith & Chrine!

Lani October 23, 2010 at 4:47 am

You have outdone yourself…not only with the authentic recipe, which I will try next time my dad is in town, but also the gorgeous photos of this very unique place. I loved reading the history and I almost felt like you took us to that very special time and place when the Moors lived in harmony in their adopted country.

Bravo! And I did like you on Food52!!

Jamie October 23, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Sara, your stunning photos always make me travel to somewhere beautiful, exotic, lush! Just perfect! And I absolutely love paella but this version looks even more flavorful and mouthwatering.

Sara October 23, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Thanks Jamie! I envy you that you live in France and can travel to Andalusia any weekend and enjoy authentic paella! :)

Sara October 23, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Lani, my paella was not as good as your dad’s (uncle’s)

Sarah October 24, 2010 at 10:21 am

I was in Granada just over a year ago! I posted about it back in September 2009 if you’re interested :-) Great little town, and yes, Alhambra was just amazing. We had our authentic paella in Madrid and it was well worth the high price. Yours looks fantastic. Wish I had been able to buy some ingredients while I was there… Smart thinking on your part.

Quay Po Cooks October 25, 2010 at 3:00 am

We are planning to go Spain on our next holiday trip. I LOVE paella, yours looks DIVINE!! Makes me HUNGRY!!

Lael Hazan October 25, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Gorgeous, as always, your photos are beautiful. I love the way that you weave the history, story, and photos together. Paella was a favorite in my family. My mother would sometimes make it for thanksgiving, much to the chagrin of my grandmother who wanted turkey. Thank you

rebecca October 26, 2010 at 2:44 am

wow what a paella great pictures and wonderful info on the travel

sanjeeta kk October 26, 2010 at 5:14 am

Great looking Paella. Probably I can try this out with veggie.

marla {family fresh cooking} October 26, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Sara, you are so lucky that you got to visit Spain & have real Paella – this has always been one of my favorite dishes. All of those seasonings with a medley of seafood, pure bliss. Wish I had some for lunch this instant. I will go track you down on Food 52 :) xo

Magic of Spice October 26, 2010 at 7:50 pm

This is a gorgeous Seafood Paella…always a favorite dish of mine :) Beautiful photos as well…

Joyti October 27, 2010 at 2:12 am

I took a class about the history of the Iberian Peninsula…its interesting to see how the Moors effected the food of the region as well so many other aspects of its culture…
That paella must be the most beautiful I’ve ever ‘seen’. I want to dive into it with a huge spoon!

Sara October 27, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Thanks Lael, Marla, Sarah, Sanjeeta, magic of spice & quay po! :)

Gina von October 28, 2010 at 5:58 pm

This looks wonderful and brings back so many memories of Granada (sigh). Gorgeous pictures too!

Bridgett October 29, 2010 at 12:30 am

Spain looks absolutely stunning. I adore paella and would love to share a bit with you…mind sharing?

Soma October 29, 2010 at 12:59 am

What a wonderful tour!!! I love that picture of the city thru the gate.. looks almost unreal like a painting.

those shrimps are calling my name:-).. beautiful recipe.

Soma October 29, 2010 at 12:59 am

What a wonderful tour!!! I love that picture of the city thru the gate.. looks almost unreal like a painting.

those shrimps are calling my name:-).. beautiful recipe.

Sara October 31, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Thanks Gina! Loved Granada!

Sara October 31, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Thanks Bridgett & Soma! Ofcourse I dont mind sharing! :)

Eliana November 1, 2010 at 7:59 pm

WOW – this paella is absolute perfection! I have seriously never seen one look more beautiful than this.

tasteofbeirut November 6, 2010 at 2:04 am

I really hope soem day to visit Granada and Sevilla and all the architectural marvels that the Moors built while there. In the meantime, I can enjoy this amazing paella, truly one of the best I have seen to date, and dream of my future travels.

Nisrine@dinners & dreams November 8, 2010 at 2:04 am

Another fabulous dish, Sara–a truly authentic Sevillana paella preparation that brings back sweet memories to my mind. I absolutely love the picture of Granada through the arch; it is very beautifully done.

Kimba's Kitchen November 8, 2010 at 2:42 am

Oh I love paella and your seafood paella looks incredible!! Also thank you for sharing pictures from your trip. Great job! :)

Sara November 8, 2010 at 5:03 am

Thanks Nisrine, Granada is one of the most beautiful towns in Spain!

Sara November 8, 2010 at 5:03 am

Thanks Kimba!

May from Andalusia October 8, 2011 at 11:11 am

Very close to mye family recipe, except for the Italian sausage and the cayenne xD.
It’s the first time that I’ve seen cayenne in a paella. Here in Spain we aren’t very fond of hot spices but I must admit that this sounds interesting ^_^

One thing, those peppers are called PIQUILLO, not Paquillo. Paquillo is a diminutive of Paco, wich is a male name (Francisco, actually).

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