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Eat Play Stay Spain — A Story of Tapas Part 4 — Tortilla de Patatas...

Tortilla de Patatas...

There is nothing simpler that can taste so good as a Tortilla de Patatas. Whether it is served cold or warm straight from the pan, it is delicious, filling, and is traditional España through and through. This inexpensive tapa is often served in bars across Spain as a complimentary eat with your drink and is present on every discerning Tapas menu to order and purchase.  It is distinctly Spanish and so delicious that no self respecting Tapas restaurant could be without it...

There are regional variations on the dish but the standard recipe is just three ingredients: eggs, Spanish onion, and potatoes. In fact Tortilla de Patatas or Tortilla Española has an interesting story, and of course at Eat Play Stay Spain we love an interesting story about Spain and its history. A document in Navaresse dated 1817 shows the first recording of this simplistic recipe. The document highlights the poor conditions of the farming community in comparison to the citizens of the capital city of the Autonomous Community of Navara, Pamplona. The document lists the food eaten by the locals and quotes, "…two to three eggs in tortilla for 5 or 6 [people] as our women do know how to make it big and thick with less eggs, mixing potatoes, breadcrumbs or whatever..."1.

It is also said that Tomás de Zumalacárregui, a Basque Spanish Carlist General, stumbled upon a farmhouse and was really hungry so he commanded the farmer's wife to make him a meal. As usual during the hard times of the The Carlist War, she had very little in her cupboards  but what she did have were some eggs, potatoes and an onion, so throwing them together she placed the meal in front of him. It is said he was delighted with his food and so took the recipe with him to the battlefields to feed his forces. How true the story is nobody knows; what we do know is that this delicious tortilla did become popular during this era.  It has gone on to become one of the most famous and popular dishes in Spain and indeed around the world, even being mass produced and sold prepacked in supermarkets. 

Now whilst there is nothing wrong with the mass produced Tortilla de Patatas that are so readily available, in fact some are very good, when they are so easy and inexpensive to make and so tantalisingly good impress your guests with making one at home for your tapas banquet.  Tell them how this simple but oh so tasty dish came about. Other ingredients can be added, such as green peppers, chorizo, courgettes, mushrooms, and ham but there is nothing nicer or more satisfying than the original recipe below.  

Tortilla de Patatas...


  • 2 pounds potatoes, peeled
  • 2 spanish onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 large eggs - beaten
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper for seasoning

  1. Cut the potatoes in half and then slice lengthways at about 1/2 cm thick.
  2. In a heavy based deep frying pan heat the oil and add the sliced onion, cook these until golden and then add the potatoes. Continue frying until the potatoes are soft.
  3. Drain the oil and place the potatoes and onions into a mixing dish, season with
  4. Add some olive oil to a non stick 9 - 10" frying pan and place over a medium heat
  5. Once heated add the potatoes, onion and egg mixture
  6. Cook for around 8 minutes, or until the bottom of the tortilla is slightly golden then placing a large plate over the pan turn it upside down gently placing the tortilla on to the plate before sliding it back into the frying pan to cook the other side.
  7. Fry for another 5 minutes or until the or until the eggs are set.
  8. Once cooked cool in the pan for a few minutes before then cutting into wedges and serving

NB Cooking times will vary depending on the size of the frying pan...

A much welcomed addition to our Tapas Banquet we are sure you will agree. So far for our Tapas feast we have...

Don't forget to read the other articles in the Eat Play Stay Spain series 'A Story of Tapas' to find out some interesting facts along the way for great conversation as you recreate 'Eat Spain' at home for your friends and family... After all Tapas are a wonderful way to dine and perfect for a very sociable evening...

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Eat Play Stay Spain — A Story of Tapas Part 4 — Tortilla de Patatas...
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