Early Memories of Spanish Food?

Do you remember your first taste of paella?  I certainly do: a family holiday in Spain when I was about three! 

Since then, this dish, to me, has been the epitome of good Spanish food. (also, of course, is Iberico ham). 

Great New Cookbook: Paella

Omar Alliboy – aka ‘The Spanish Chef’ – has produced a superb tribute to his country’s national dish and I would urge anyone who, like me, visits Spain regularly, to buy a copy…it will broaden your ‘paella repertoire’ immensely. 

Paella, by Omar Alliboy, is published by Quadrille at £18 for a hardback book, packed with evocative images to whet your appetite and tempt you to sunnier climes.

Omar Alliboy

Madrid born Allibhoy is the founder of the critically-acclaimed Tapas Revolution – the largest Spanish restaurant group in the UK.

He began his career training under legendary chef Ferran Adrià, then with Gordon Ramsay in London, who dubbed him the ‘Antonio Banderas of cooking’. 

Omar is committed to being at the forefront of representing the wonderful food of Spain in the UK and has picked up multiple awards along the way.

As well as running a successful business, Omar maintains a career as a successful TV chef.

The Ultimate Sunday Treat

I’m lucky enough to visit Mallorca regularly and have been doing so for decades. 

I will always remember cycling into Pollensa town on a Sunday morning for the market, and then going to a basement cafeteria at the foot of the Calvario steps where paella was the hero dish at lunch.  Sadly the building is now a shop, one I can’t pass without the memory of those amazing paellas.

From its humble beginnings, this ultimate one-pan feast and generous, colourful creation, dates back centuries and has countless variations. 

In this love letter to his favourite dish, chef Allibhoy unveils the insider knowledge and tips you need to produce a perfect panful of glorious tastes and textures with ease.

The book helps you master the basics of making paella, so that you can be as traditional or creative as you like, whether it’s one thrown together with whatever is left at the bottom of the fridge on a Tuesday night, or a wildly inventive and decadent paella cooked on the barbecue at the weekend. 

Here are a couple of recipes to tempt you to buy the book:

Arroz de Matanza (Pork Feast Paella) 

Serves 4 Prep 30 minutes Cook 2 hours

‘This is a dish based on a recipe from days gone by,when no one had a fridge and you had to use the whole animal every time you slaughtered one. Any cut of pork can be used in the paella – just how it was made back then.’

100ml (scant 1⁄2 cup) extra virgin olive oil

150g (5oz) pork belly, cut into lardons

150g (5oz) mini chorizo sausages 

150g (5oz) smoked bacon

3 shallots, quartered

6 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp sweet smoked paprika

1 tomato, grated

1 bay leaf

0.4g saffron (see page 33 for a measuring guide)

2 sprigs of thyme

3 litres (12 cups) water

400g (2 cups) Spanish paella rice 

Salt, to taste


Place a paella pan over high heat, add the olive oil and fry all the meats and shallots for 10 minutes.

Add the garlic, closely followed by the paprika and grated tomato, and cook for about 2 minutes until the oil starts to separate from the tomato paste. Add the bay leaf, saffron and thyme, pour in the water and simmer over a low heat for 1 hour.

Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Add the rice and stir to distribute it evenly. Cook over a high heat for the first 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for a further 9 minutes, without stirring. Let it rest off the heat for 5 minutes before eating.

Arroz de Carrilleras (Beef Cheek, Carrot and Chickpea Paella)

Serves 4 Prep 20 minutes Cook 3 ½ hours

‘Beef or pork cheeks are a sublime cut: when properly cooked they are meltingly tender. They benefit from long, slow cooking – but I promise this paella is worth the wait.’

100ml (scant 1⁄2 cup) olive oil 800g (1lb 12oz) beef cheeks

3 carrots, cut into small batons 

1 medium onion, chopped

1 celery stick, finely chopped

6 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

2 bay leaves

1⁄4 cinnamon stick

2 cloves

1 tsp sweet smoked paprika

5 black peppercorns

175ml (3⁄4 cup) red wine

3 litres (12 cups) water

100g (1⁄2 cup) dried chickpeas

(garbanzo beans), soaked in water for 24 hours

400g (2 cups) Spanish paella rice 

Salt, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a wide pan over a medium heat. 

Season the beef cheeks with salt and pan- fry for 5 minutes on each side. 

Add the carrot, onion, celery and garlic and fry for 10 minutes until well browned. Add the tomatoes and reduce down for 3 minutes, stirring to deglaze the bottom of the pan.

Add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cloves, paprika and black peppercorns, then add the red wine and reduce for a minute. Pour in the water, reduce the heat to low and add the chickpeas. Let them simmer gently for the next 3 hours until both the chickpeas and cheeks are soft to the touch.

Add the rice and give it a good stir, distributing it evenly, then taste the liquid and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Cook over a high heat for the first 10 minutes, then reduce to medium and cook for another 9 minutes, without stirring. Let it rest off the heat for 5 minutes before eating.