Which spice makes the Spanish dish paella tawny in colour?
Paella is a Spanish rice dish originally from Valencia. Paella is one of the best-known dishes in Spanish cuisine. Although it may be seen internationally as Spain's national dish, Spaniards almost unanimously consider it to be a dish from the Valencian region.
Paella takes its name from the wide, shallow traditional pan used to cook the dish on an open fire. Paella means "frying pan" in Valencian, Valencia's regional language. Saffron is the spice that gives the dish colour and flavour. Saffron's hay-like fragrance result from the phytochemicals, picrocrocin and safranal. It also contains a carotenoid pigment, crocin, which imparts a rich golden-yellow hue to dishes and textiles.
Saffron could be described as the prima donna of the spice cabinet. For starters, it’s the most expensive spice in the world. In addition, it requires special treatment to fully extract its unique flowery, pungent, almost bitter character and deep orange color that make it indispensable in paella and a host of other traditional dishes.
Saffron’s high cost is due to the fact that the threads are the actual stigma of a particular crocus flower and must be harvested by hand. Fortunately, a little bit of saffron goes a long way.