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10 Of The Best Dishes From The Regions Of Murcia And Andalusia

10 Of The Best Dishes From The Regions Of Murcia And Andalusia

Often referred to as ‘Europe’s vegetable gardens’, the farms of Murcia and Andalusia cultivate some of the finest produce on the continent. There’s a long growing season thanks to the geography and climate and use of the latest agricultural technologies. Throw sensational seafood into the mix and you have the recipe for a lot of great eating. Here’s our guide to ten of the best local dishes.
Alcachofas de la abuela | Courtesy of Leyla Kazim

Alcachofas de la abuela | Courtesy of Leyla Kazim

Alcachofas de la abuela – Grandmother’s Artichokes

Don’t be fooled by the austere presentation, this plate is packed full of flavor. Only found in restaurants that still cook with traditional techniques, alcachofas de la abuela recipes are closely guarded secrets. Typically Murcian – and also found south of Alicante – expect to fall hard for beautifully textured artichoke hearts with the soft crunch of pine nuts. They say don’t fill up on bread, but when cooked in a beef stock as good as this, it’s hard to resist an enthusiastic mop-up.

Where to find it: La Pequeña Taberna, Calle General Margallo, Murcia, Spain, +34 968 21 98 40

 

Arroz al caldero | Courtesy of Leyla Kazim

Arroz al caldero | Courtesy of Leyla Kazim


Arroz al caldero – Cauldron-cooked Rice

A dish strongly associated with the fishermen of the dazzling Mar Menor bay, arroz al caldero comes from humble roots. Dating back to the nineteenth century, the recipe is comprised of whatever fish was left over from the day’s catch that was not sold at market. Cooked in a cauldron along with peppers, garlic, olive oil and tomatoes, the end result is a sensational, sticky and malleable rice, sometimes with hunks of fish, full of flavor from the sea.

Where to find it: Los Churrascos, Plaza de San Juan, Murcia, Spain, +34 968 221 200

 

Arroz meloso | Courtesy of Leyla Kazim

Arroz meloso | Courtesy of Leyla Kazim


Arroz meloso – Creamy Rice

Somewhere between a paella and a stew, arroz meloso is similar in texture to a risotto but with differences in the cooking method, such as a lack of cheese or cream. The flavor comes from the stock, often fish based, and the dish is cooked with peppers and paprika with the addition of sweet little clams. Expect a hearty, wholesome bowl of savory comfort with a pimento kick.

Where to find it: Restaurante 4 Nudos San Jose, Prto. Deportivo, s/n Edificio Club Nautico, Níjar – Almería, Spain,+34 659 699 933

 

Bacalao fresco con tomate | Courtesy of Leyla Kazim

Bacalao fresco con tomate | Courtesy of Leyla Kazim


Bacalao Fresco con Tomate – Fresh Cod with Tomato

Typical to Campo de Cartagena, this dish plays homage to an ingredient cooked in the region since Roman times – salted fish. A method of preservation that’s changed little over centuries, the fish in question is often cod and in this particular recipe, is cooked with vegetables, garlic and tomatoes. The olive oil in which the cod is fried emulsifies with the fish fat, to create an exquisite al pil-pil sauce.

Where to find it: Los Churrascos, Plaza de San Juan, Murcia, Spain, +34 968 221 200

 

Paparajote | Courtesy of Leyla Kazim

Paparajote | Courtesy of Leyla Kazim


Paparajote – Battered and Fried Lemon Leaves

With the simultaneously delicate and indulgent texture of a doughnut, paparajote consists of lemon leaves coated in an egg and flour batter, deep fried and then dusted with sugar and cinnamon. Don’t let the locals trick you into eating the whole package – remove the indigestible leaves and enjoy the crisp and lemony dough casing all on its own. Very typical to Murcia and quintessentially eaten during the Spring Festival, savor them with sweet wine or coffee.

Where to find it: La Pequeña Taberna, Calle General Margallo, Murcia, Spain, +34 968 21 98 40

 

Bonito con tomate |  Courtesy of Leyla Kazim

Bonito con tomate | Courtesy of Leyla Kazim


Bonito con Tomate – Tuna with Tomato

Atlantic bonito tuna can be found in the Mediterranean and the locals of Almeria and Murcia like to serve it with plump, sun-soaked tomatoes. A classic appetizer in these parts and a perfect example of simplicity done to perfection, the tuna is cured in salt and the dish is brought together with the ubiquitous local olive oil. Presentation and quantities of each ingredient vary, but rest assured it will be good wherever you have it.

Where to find it: Restaurante El Churra, Avenida Marqués de Los Vélez, 12, Murcia, Spain, +34 968 23 84 00

 

Pulpo a la murciana | Courtesy of Leyla Kazim

Pulpo a la murciana | Courtesy of Leyla Kazim


Pulpo a la Murciana – Murcian-style Octopus

Plates of octopus can be found all over Spain, but it’s a difficult dish to get right. Taming muscly tentacles into something soft and yielding usually requires one of two extremes – the briefest of cooking, or many hours of careful supervision. In Murcia, it’s the latter, baked in the oven of around four hours. Cooked with little more than paprika and olive oil – and sometimes served with lemon – there are few better ways to enjoy this creature of the deep.

Where to find it: La Pequeña Taberna, Calle General Margallo, Murcia, Spain, +34 968 21 98 40

 

El Tabernero |  Courtesy of Leyla Kazim

El Tabernero | Courtesy of Leyla Kazim


El Tabernero – Almerian-style Ratatouille

If the intention is to sample a lot of flavors from a single plate, an Almerian-style ratatouille is a good place to start. A layered assembly of roasted vegetables, black olives, garlic, and often dressed with balsamic vinegar and a hefty wedge of goat’s cheese, el tabernero is a mound of all things good grown in the ground. Scoop up the soft oil-slicked vegetables and tuck into the cheese with warm bread.

Where to find it: Restaurante 4 Nudos San Jose, Prto. Deportivo, s/n Edificio Club Nautico, Níjar – Almería, Spain +34 659 699 933

 

Hortalizas en tempura | Courtesy of Leyla Kazim

Hortalizas en tempura | Courtesy of Leyla Kazim


Hortalizas en tempura – Vegetable Tempura

Often associated with Japanese cuisine, tempura is an ideal way to let the quality of produce steal the show. A dish that has become increasingly common in Spain thanks to the growing popularity of Asian food, you’ll find an assortment of local vegetables delicately dipped in batter and deep fried. The results are piping-hot and golden-encrusted finger food that’s hard to leave alone.

Where to find it: Hotel Catedral Restaurante, Plaza de la Catedral 8, Almería, Spain, +34 950 278 178

 

Verduras a la Plancha | Courtesy of Leyla Kazim

Verduras a la Plancha | Courtesy of Leyla Kazim

Verduras a la Plancha – Grilled Vegetables

Alongside steaming or just eating them raw, treating vegetables to nothing more than quick heat on a griddle is one of the most effective ways to retain their nutrients. Plates piled high with vibrant and slightly charred vegetables are common in these parts, often enjoyed as starters. Lightly tossed in olive oil, they are then flung onto a hot plancha (flat top grill) and whilst still al dente, removed, seasoned and served.

Where to find it: La Pequeña Taberna, Calle General Margallo, Murcia, Spain, +34 968 21 98 40

 

By Leyla Kazim