Attending the Beach Canteen , Dubai live cooking demo showcasing authentic Spanish Paella reminded me of something. The first time I attempted to cook a home-made paella dish was when my parents returned from a trip from Australia via Malaysia.  As they slept, to get over the jet lag, I felt the need to cook for them so that good ole home made food would revive them. A happy tummy maketh a happy human, I think.

I love dishes that are simple to cook and are like, in a way, a hot pot – you know, all the food and accompaniment in one dish.  And that’s what paella reminds me of. Home, simple and easy conversations with the family, good taste and of course the smell of great aromas floating throughout the home from the kitchen. It’s a bit like cooking biryani I suppose, a slow cooked dish.

So, I was mighty glad to catch the live cooking demonstration by Chef Luis Ezqueta of Urban Paella at the Beach Canteen during Dubai Food Festival 2016. The site was the kite beach – just perfect.

Urban Paella is part of a new culinary trend. Invite guests to your party. Hire a professional chef who focusses on a particular cuisine and he will dish up the best of cultural aromas from his country. It’s almost as if chefs want to do more than just cooking in the restaurant or for his family.  Chefs want to impart their culture and culinary prowess in a way that people from other cultures can appreciate it. Hence, the concept of home-cooking.

Here are photos with Chef Luis at work. He told us that he has made paella for a group of 100 people and it was cooked in a colossal pan.

1) Chef Luis prepares the Spanish sofrito – the base sauce which is usually made with tomatoes, garlic, onions and capsicum


Chef Luis prepares the sofrito. Freshly cut squid, sardines and mussels await to be part of the dish

2) Chef Luis prepares the sofrito while the fish stock bubbles away.


3) Chef Luis filters the stock from the fish remnants. Freshly made fish stocks smells oh so delicious. Mackerels and prawns were used to add flavour to the stock.


4) Bomba rice sits in a crockery pot.  These pots are made in Spain. Aren’t they beautiful?


5) After adding the squid and the prawns, the rice is added and stirred. Look at the colour! Chef Luis prefers to use turmeric which is a natural colourant.


Bomba rice is stirred into the sofrito, prawns and squid

6)  Some of the prawns were used in the making of the fish stock. Others were peeled and added to the pan (see above pictures). The langoustine will go into the main dish.


Prawns and langoustines. Adding flavour to the the Spanish Paella

7) The stock has been added. Now, it’s time to dress up the dish. In goes the prawns, langoustines and mussels before the pan is popped into the oven.


Decorating the paella dish

8) After popping it in the oven for a short while, it’s all ready. Isn’t the presentation amazing?


Chef Luis smiles at another paella success.

9) The finished dish.


10) This the first time I’d even tasted the langoustine. Oh! I do love seafood.

Chef Luis-Urban Paella

Enjoying langoustines while lounging at the beach canteen

Here is the website of Urban Paella Dubai, by Chef Luis Ezqueta.

The Beach Canteen was part of the Dubai Food Festival 2016, organised by DFRE, the agency of DTCM (Dubai Tourism)

All photos taken by ©Jan D’Sa.