Updated: Apr 9
This part of Spain is uniquely different due to the influence of Islamic Moorish culture from North Africa. The blend North African culture influences its food mixing Spanish techniques with delicious Middle Eastern Spices!
Welcome to what is quite possibly the most addictive region in Spain. Flamenco guitars serenade the love struck traveler wondering the historic stone streets of an ancient village set amidst the rolling hills of green grass fields. It almost feels as if you have stepped into a painting in this helplessly romantic part of the world. Dig deeper into this region and you will find a complex culture with Islamic, Moorish roots that influence everything from architecture to it delicious cuisine! This is my favorite part of Spain.
Andalusian Moorish History
For hundreds of years Andalusia was under the rule of Islamic kings who constructed what is known to be the most beautiful structures in the world. In many places you feel you have left Spain and entered Arabia.
After sampling the smoky rich flavors of Andalusian Paella I was hooked. Obtaining the Andalusian Spices was key in order to create this dish as authentically as possible. Scouring Andalusia for the perfect smokiness in a Paprika and the highest of quality in Saffron I found what was needed to create it! In the process I discovered the Islamic heritage of Alhambra, the hypnotic trance like music of Flamenco, and the quaint villages like Cordoba. I fell instantly in love after traveling here.
Andalusian Paella Recipe
A smokey Paella from the Spain's spicy Southern region of Andalusia. This Paella has Moorish routes and flavors of North Africa.
Serving Prep Time Cook Time
4 Servings 10min 1 Hour
2 tsp Andalusian Paella Spice
1 Ripe Tomato
1/2 White Wine
10 Black Mussels
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 inches Spanish Chorizo Sausage
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 cup Paella Rice
2 cups Organic Chicken Stock
10 Large Prawns (Whole)
1 bunch Fresh Parsley
1/2 tsp Cyprus Pyramid Salt
Cook the Black Mussels in a deep pan with the onion (chopped) and white wine until the Mussels open up. Discard the unopened mussels. Put the Mussels in a separate bowl and strain the liquid to be used later on. In the pan of onions add the tomato (chopped), red bell pepper (minced), chorizo sausage (Sliced) and extra virgin olive oil, cook for five minutes on medium heat.
While cooking put the saffron threads in a small tea cup of hot water for five minutes to sit. Add the Paella Spice, Smoked Paprika and Sea Salt and cook for another 3-5 minutes or until fragrant. At this point add the Wine liquid mixture from the beginning, organic chicken stock, Saffron mix and paella rice, stir the mixture until it boils and reduce heat to low for 15 minutes (Uncovered no stirring).
When the rice begins to become soft after the fifteen minutes add the prawns and stir into the mixture. At this point you can cover it and keep on low heat for another 10 minutes. Finally add the Mussels and parsley, stir and cook until all the liquid is evaporated and the rice is a good consistency.
A beautiful land of rolling grassy hills, blue skies and small stone towns. Andalusia's Moorish history is everywhere, its grand Islamic architecture and Southern Spanish culture makes this one of the most fascinating destinations in Europe!
Crossing from the Moroccan coast and into Andalusia, Spain I was expecting the change to be dramatic. However to my surprise because of the hundreds of years of Moorish influence here Andalusia has developed a mixed culture of Arab North African and Spanish culture. It shows in the church halls which are Islamic, as they used to be mosques. The faces of the people reminisce those in Morocco and of course Andalusia's spicy cuisine which calls upon the flavors of North Africa. Andalusia is such a fascinating corner of Europe well worth spending a entire trip investigating this region.
Granada, Home of Paella
From the coast I made my way to Granada known to be the hub of Andalusian culture. Here I witnessed Andalusian Flamenco a mix of dance and song that is hypnotizing with its Moorish heritage. Granada city is also filled with history, more notably is the UNESCO Heritage sight of Alhambra a grand Moorish palace built from the Islamic empires of Spain. Alhambra has been widely considered the most beautiful structure in the world. Granada is also home to some of Spain's most delicious Paella's, the best of them are found in the hole in the wall street shops run by their very own house grandma whose Paella recipes have been passed down for generations.