Nothing raises passions quite like paella. Born in Valencia, this classic concoction of rice simmered up with all sorts of meat, seafood and veggies is loved across Spain. There's a swathe of satisfying regional variations on offer – so to get a handle on the dish's delicious diversity, we've rounded up a few of our favourites from across the country. So let Barcelona's El Fumet de Letamendi, Madrid's La Casa de los Arroces and Es. Paella in Valencia prepare their perfect paellas for you.
Spaniards are fiercely protective of their most famous dish. And rightly so – paella bears the soul of the country in one comforting embrace of Mediterranean produce and Iberian flavours.
It's also a hotly contested dish. All may agree short grain rice cooked in stock is the essential base. From there it's a blank canvas. Most versions also include the 'sofrito' – sautéed onions, garlic and tomato. Then an array of meat, seafood and vegetables can be added. It's all simmered, unstirred, in a large pan – traditionally placed over a wood fire – which captures the Spanish love of celebration and communal dining.
Paella's roots stretch back to ancient times. But the paella we know and love is a Valencian dish – their word 'paella' coming from the French 'paelle', meaning pan. From the mid-19th century, the word paella meant the dish itself not the pan, and its popularity soon spread. And the ingredient list grew as regional preferences were added to the melting pot.
Valencians claim two authentic versions. The original 'Valencian' paella includes chicken and rabbit – plus optional snails and duck – with vegetables such as butter beans, runner beans and artichokes, all spiced up with paprika and saffron. While a seafood version is favoured by coastal areas, you'll also find chorizo cropping in there too, although paella purists may frown on this addition.
For a taste of paella in its true home, there's no better place than specialists Es. Paella. Keep it classic with Paella Valenciana, with chicken and vegetables, or go for the Paella de Marisco which is teeming with seafood. Or push the boat out and luxuriate in Paella de Foie, Boletus y Trigueros.
The aptly named La Casa De Los Arroces are Madrid's paella perfectionists. Variations include familiar favourites – seafood, vegetable and mixed versions, available in orders for up to six people, ideal for a celebratory feast. We love the Negra version though, with squid, cuttlefish, prawns and black ink.
El Fumet de Letamendi takes its inspiration from the famous Doctor - whose name adorns the nearby square. And their array of rice dishes, from classic Valencian style to lobster or squid and cuttlefish, will be the perfect medicine of your soul.
Get in on the paella fun – check out your options here on Deliveroo.