SEAFOOD PAELLA with Turmeric

Seafood Paella w/ Turmeric | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN

My 14 month old son is teething. The poor guy has 4 molars coming through at once. It is at times like this that I am particularly grateful for my studies into natural nutrition. I often pull out my old text books to look up a natural concoction I can use to heal, soothe or settle an ailment.

Seafood Paella with Turmeric

Paella is a traditional Spanish dish that can be made with any combo of seafood, meat, chicken, or vegetarian with extra vegetables. I am informed in Spain it will often come with all of the above and is very rich and oily. My version is not so heavy, with seasonal vegetables from the garden. It is a very versatile family dinner we make often - our children aren't so keen on the mussels (yet) but they love the prawns and the sticky rice.
Servings 4 - 6
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes


  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion chopped
  • 1 red pepper roughly chopped
  • 1/2 chorizo sausage or 2 rashers bacon roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric; or 1 Tbsp fresh turmeric finely grated
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 1 litre fish or chicken stock + extra boiling water if needed
  • 1 1/2 cups medium grain white rice
  • Handful green beans or 1 cup frozen beans
  • 1 zucchini sliced (or 1/2 cup frozen peas)
  • handful cherry tomatoes halved
  • 12 large green-lipped mussels cleaned and de-bearded (or 24 small mussels)
  • 200 g frozen prawns thawed in a bowl of cold water
  • Chopped coriander cilantro to garnish
  • Lemon wedges to serve


  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan (we used a traditional Paella pan as we have family in Spain who sent us one, but a large shallow pan will do). Add the onions, red pepper and chorizo and saute for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, turmeric, salt and stock. Bring to a gentle boil and pour in the rice. Don't stir. Cover with a lid and leave to cook for 10 minutes over a moderate heat.
  • Lift the lid and check the liquid level, it should be mostly absorbed. If the pan is dry add 1/2 cup boiling water. Again don't stir the rice. Scatter over the vegetables, mussels and prawns. Replace the lid and cook for a further 10 minutes. Check the rice and vegetables are cooked, and that the mussels are open. Cook an extra 5 minutes if necessary. Garnish with coriander and serve with a wedge of lemon.


Notes: Depending on the pan you use to cook the paella, you may need to add extra boiling water or hot stock if the liquid is absorbed quickly. You want the rice to be just cooked with no liquid remaining.


You will need approx. 1 kg, about 3-4 large fish heads (or a whole fish carcass if you are filleting a fish). Put the fish heads into a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Throw in some parsley stalks, a celery stalk, roughly chopped carrot and onion, and 1/2 dozen black peppercorns. If you don’t have all this don’t despair just make do with what I do have (my kind of cooking). Bring to a boil and simmer (a nice rolling simmer) for 25-30 minutes. No longer or you will end up with a bitter stock. Strain through a colander and cool. This makes about 2-3 litres.

Some of my favourite remedies are food based including chicken soup for a cold or flu, rice congee for diarrhea, and ginger tea for nausea (I found this very helpful during pregnancy). Of-course, if it is something serious I waste no time in heading to the doctor (or calling my Dad, a retired GP).

With my son in obvious discomfort this week I have been reveling in the power of turmeric. It is an age-old remedy for pain, a natural anti-inflammatory. It has an active ingredient called curcumin that possesses potent anti-inflammatory properties. And it’s benefits have been studied with positive results as a natural pain relief for arthritis.

And bingo on my weekly trip to the farmers market I found fresh turmeric root (that is the knobbly ginger looking root below). And it has gone into everything – Thai-inspired soups, ginger and turmeric tea, yellow rice, I even grated some into muesli bars. Turmeric root can often be found in Asian stores and grocers, it looks like ginger, though smaller with a distinct yellow colour. As with most dried herbs and spices the fresh version is milder so more is required. I generally use 1 tablespoon fresh to 1 teaspoon dried.

The recipe that follows is our version of Spanish Paella. Though, I must confess I didn’t come up with the idea of using turmeric in Paella. It happened by accident when it was my husbands turn to cook (he is the rice king in the house – risotto and paella are his territory), and he reached for the turmeric instead of the saffron (the traditional yellow ingredient in Paella). And it worked out just fine. A little less floral without the saffron threads but lovely and yellow and just as delicious. So ever since our saffron ran our we have used turmeric, it is a whole lot cheaper too.

Another healing ingredient in this Seafood Paella is fish stock. When I am at my local fish shop I always look out for fish heads. Yes, you heard me right, we eat fish heads. Well not exactly eat, we boil them up to make fish stock which is then frozen into 1 litre containers to use as needed in soups, risotto and paella. It is actually the simplest of stocks to make so there is no excuse not to make some (unless you don’t eat fish that is).

Seafood Paella w/ Turmeric | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN

Seafood Paella w/ Turmeric | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN

Seafood Paella w/ Turmeric | HOMEGROWN KITCHEN


Join the Conversation

  1. Hi Nicola,
    We met years ago in Nelson on different occasions – including in the public library and at an early Slowfood gathering. When we were in Nelson we had the Neudorf cheese company, but sold that business when we moved to the North Island 4 years ago. My daughter follows your blog and we all enjoy your recipes. Today she sent me the link to the Paella recipe – particularly because we now run a business importing and selling food from Spain. There were lovely things we liked and couldn’t afford to buy here so we have begun to import them ourselves and sell only online and keep all our overheads low so that we can make these delicious items available to other NZ consumers with out the very high margins that are usually added into the price. We have lovely DO Bomba rice and other ingredients that would be great in your beautiful Paella, including Spanish Smoked paprika.
    Please do take a look

    Best wishes

    1. Hi Lisa
      Thanks for the comment. Yes I remember meeting at the dairy. I still buy neudorf cheese every week at the market from Micheal who runs the stall. I didn’t realise you had sold the farm and moved. I will check out your website. Thanks for posting the link. All the best.

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