Paprika (Capsicum annuum)
Paprika is a fine spice powder made from the dried capsicum fruit. There is no single paprika pepper, as it is made from a number of different red capsicums. Paprika is often smoked, giving it a unique, earthy flavour
Paprika’s flavour varieties depending on where the plant originated and whether it also contains ground seeds, stalks and veins. Some can be mild, sweet and smoky, while others are hot and full-bodied with a hint of bitterness. Paprika should never by overheated as it can become too bitter.
Like its flavour, the aroma of paprika can vary. It can range from restrained and delicate with caramel notes to smoky and heated.
Paprika is an essential spice in Hungarian cuisine however it is also widely used in Spanish, Turkish, Portuguese, Indian and Moroccan cooking. It is used in goulash, sausages, tagines, stews, omelettes, stews and curries. Paprika pairs well with beef, veal, cheese, potatoes, chicken, vegetables, pork, onion, olive oil, sour cream, yoghurt and rice and can marry with allspice, caraway, cardamom, garlic, rosemary, saffron, turmeric and parsley.
Ripe fruits are picked from capsicum plants and dried. The fruit is then destalked and the seeds and veins are separated with the seeds and the flesh ground separately and blended accordingly depending on the type of paprika being made.
Capsicums are native to the Americas and was introduced into Spain, Turkey and Hungry from the 14th century. It was the Spanish who first dried and ground the peppers to make paprika. Paprika was originally thought to be a peasant’s spice however in the 19th century it was finally considered to be suitable for ‘sophisticated stomachs’.
Paprika is packed with antioxidants, vitamins (particularly vitamin A), iron, beta-carotene and anti-bacteria properties. It is claimed to help promote healthy skin, reduce the occurrence of wrinkles, prevent hair loss, lower blood pressure, assist digestion and treat skin problems like acne.
Facts about Paprika
Paprika can be used with henna to make a reddish hair dye.