Tuesday, 8 July 2008
I'm a meat man and to be honest, in all the years that I have been cooking, I have rarely ever bothered to make anything vegetarian. However, all that changed when we became very close friends with a Vegetarian! Although her husband is a meat-eater, like the rest of us, I now take special care to prepare Vegetarian dishes for her. More often than not, when we invite them over for dinner, I make everything vegetarian with just make a small meat dish as a side to assuage the meaty requirements of the rest of us! :)
That was what led me to make this Vegetable Paella.
Paella is actually the name of the vessel used to cook the dish. Apparently, Paella is the Valencian name for Frying Pan and also has roots in Latin, French, Italian as well as Mexican Spanish. A true Paella is made with Saffron. The meat, vegetables or seafood is cooked and then water added to which the rice is added and then cooked. That anyway is how I have read it is supposed to be made.
I cheat of course. I think it is too complicated to boil rice to get a nice consistency. So this is what I do.
First, I make the rice in the rice cooker, but I reduce some of the water to make sure the rice is really, really grainy - and maybe a little undercooked. I usually use Basmati rice to get extra flavour and fragrance.
Then I stir fry carrots, capsicum, , eggplant, celery and mushrooms with lots of garlic, oregano and rosemary. I add in some water and let everything cook up nicely, extracting the flavours from the vegetables.
Add in the cooked rice and mix well, allowing it to 'steep' in the juices and absorb all the flavours. Keep adding enough rice till the mixture is grainy and not mushy.
And there you have a Vegetarian Paella. Maybe not the true way it is supposed to be made but it turns out great anyway!