This paella with an oriental twist came about by accident in a way. I think Jamie Oliver had been winding up the Spanish with his ideas on the great Spanish tradition of Paella. This lead to an avalanche of critical articles about Jamie Oliver’s, cultural appropriation & many other crimes against the Spanish way of life. My only previous exposure to “paella” had been those disgusting Vesta creations of the mid 70’s as a teenager on camping trips. Because of that early experience I had dismissed the idea of paella from my mind. However these articles got me thinking about it, and reading them I though “this all seems rather interesting – especially to veganise them”.
After that, I started a bit of internet digging, and came up with quite a few interesting ideas on that front. Taking the best ideas as always, and amalgamating them always seems to give good results. The idea of including coconut milk and chilli – sacrilege to the Spanish I’m sure – was also rather appealing. Adding a few other interesting ideas like roasted artichokes, green butter beans, capers finished the dish off nicely.
The main thing is to have a nice wide but fairly shallow dish to cook it in, but with a good fitting lid to stop it drying out and help caramelization. You can use a mediteranean casserole or a sauteuse for that.
Getting the water quantity right can also be tricky, because the brown rice needs to cook, and absorbs a lot of water. If you follow the water quantity in the recipe and use basmati long grain brown rice, you won’t go far wrong. What you’re looking for at the end a moist kind of stickiness – but definitely not dry. This paella with an oriental twist goes very well with hummus and of course garlic bread.
Paella with an oriental twist
- 1 medium onion – cut in fine segments like an orange. 250g
- 2 medium red peppers sliced in long strips lengthwise (250g)
- 250 g chestnut mushrooms sliced thinly across the whole cap. (or king oyster etc)
- 200 g edamame beans or frozen fava/broad beans
- 2 flat tsp cayenne pepper or chilli powder.
- 4 level tsp paprika. I used 3 of paprika and one of smoked chilli
- Juice of 1 ½ large or 2 small lemons – to add to mix. (100ml)
- Coconut oil to fry onions and veg
- 8 or so garlic cloves sliced to small chunks.
- About 24 baby plum/pomodoro tomatoes - I used whole pack from Tesco - 325g.
- 1 tsp
saffron threads– I used a whole packet from Sainsbury. can use 2 but saffron is costly
- Pack of Waitrose or Sainsbury’s roasted artichokes – sliced lengthways into 3.
- 400 g short-grain brown rice.
- 400 ml can of full fat coconut milk
- 750 ml water - seems just about right.
- 3 low salt veg stock cubes.
- 3 level teaspoons low salt veg stock
- 1 rounded teaspoon onion powder – not essential
- 60 g capers.
- 380 g pack of Fry’s “chicken” strips – or similar – cook with some oil 200°C 10-12mins
- 1 level teaspoon of chipotle chilli flakes Harvest/Sainsbury’s sell them.
- 30 g bunch of fresh coriander roughly chopped.
- Could add one medium carrot?????
- Sautee the onions for 5 minutes or so in a large Mediterranean casserole with the coconut oil
- While you’re cooking the onions, it’s a good time to put the veggie chicken strips in the actifry (or wok) with a little oil and cook for about ten minutes so they’re ready to add towards the end.
- As the onions soften then add the red peppers, sliced garlic and mushrooms to the pan and mix. Cook on a moderate heat for 5 more minutes until browning nicely.
- Add the halved plum tomatoes and other spices (cayenne, paprika), cook for just a few minutes longer (but not so the tomatoes break up) and then add in the rest of the vegetable ingredients – sliced artichokes, edamame/fava/broad beans and washed rice.
- Straight after add in the coconut milk, the lemon juice the saffron threads, and water (with the stock cubes already dissolved in it).
- The pre-cooked “chicken” can be added at the same time. Simmer for a few minutes on the hob
- Then add in the coriander and give it a final stir to mix everything up, trying to distribute the rice evenly - then don’t stir it again– it’s very important not to stir the dish once it goes in the oven according to the Spanish!
- Finally sprinkle on the chilli flakes and cover.
- Then cook in the oven on 175ۤ°C for about 50 minutes to an hour – until pretty much all the water has been absorbed by the rice and it is tender.
- To see how near cooked it is, hold the mix away from the side to see how much liquid is left – then check the rice for tenderness.
- Depending on the rice and the amount of vegetables, you may need a bit more or a bit less water, but 750ml is in the right range. Once you’ve nailed it, it’s very repeatable. Feel free to add more spices if you like a stronger flavour.