Now, it is very important to mention how the Arabs altered the Spanish cuisine. After the invasion, the Spanish included many herbs, spices, and the garbanzo bean from the northern fields of Africa into their cooking, whereas other European countries used neither of them.
Starting the discussion with herbs and spices, Andalusia needs to be mentioned. This warm part of Spain was well known for its sources rosemary, thyme, oregano, and bay. However, it was the Moors (the Arabs) who brought many more flavors that can be met in Spanish dishes. The invaders introduced mint to the Spanish who used it extensively for the preparation of snails and meats. Cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, sesame, and aniseed all became a part of the daily preparation of meats, sweets, and drinks. Saffron- the ruler of all the herbs and spices- became a part of Spanish cuisine due to the influence of the Arabs as well.
The Arabs planted rice in the regions of Valencia and that is why many people associate this area with this food product. Paella is a typical Spanish meal with rice. However, it would not be created if rice, saffron, and many different kinds of vegetables were not planted in Spain by the Arabs.
After discussing the main dishes, it is time for us to think about the fruits and vegetables they are made of. The Moors showed the Spanish lemons, olives, oranges, figs, aubergines, dates, and so much more. After all, these products were the ones that created the Andalusian diet. For instance, aubergine slices fried with honey, olives and olive oil are found in a in a recipe book of Spanish cuisine.
Continuing with the stories about food, it is relevant to mention nuts. Nutritionally important almonds were imported from the Moors just like many other products. Thus, many cakes, small sweets, and other pastries consist of marzipan and almond. Another relative of almond- pine nut- is a delicious addition to the Spanish cuisine as well. The “pionate” of Jimena is a flavorful mix of honey, almond flour, spices and pine nuts and is very nourishing. Polvorones, tocino de cielo (custard and caramel) and yemas de San Leandro are other Moorish based sweets that can be found in Andalusia (Al- Andalus).