Paprika is a fun and colorful spice to add flavor to a wide variety of dishes. It is available year round and should be purchased in small quantities. It needs to be stored in a cool, dark environment and kept in airtight containers to keep its natural color and flavor.
Paprika is a spice that is made from ground bell peppers or chili peppers and similar to chili powder. It ranges from mild to very spicy, and its main purpose is to add color and of course flavor to dishes. Paprika itself releases its color and flavor through the process of heating/cooking. The flavor is full of a nice smoky aroma. This is because the peppers are dried and formed through the process of smoking. It is also used frequently as a garnish by most chefs.
Hungary is a major source of the spice is very common in food from that region. It is available in different qualities and grades. These range from special quality, which is the mildest, sweet that has a bright red color, and strong which is light brown in color, and is the hottest. Hungarians will also add cayenne pepper to intensify the heat in the hotter versions. Paprika has a heat scale that ranges from 2 to 7.
Paprika is also very nutritional, it is very high in vitamin C and even more so than lemon juice by weight. The amount of Vitamin C is said to be seven times more than an orange. Although the very intense heat while drying it destroys much of the vitamin C it is an excellent source of beta-carotene, that the body will convert into vitamin A. It is also high in antioxidants.
Paprika is used in a variety of culinary dishes. The Hungarian people like to use it in paprikash and goulash. People of the Spanish culture use it to make chorizo and other spiced sausages. It is used in cheeses, spreads, and even marinades. In the American culture, many people will use it to garnish deviled eggs which add a nice touch of smoky flavor to the dish. Portuguese and Turkish recipes call for Paprika in vegetable dishes, stews, soups, and casseroles. In Indian dishes, paprika is used in tandoori chicken to give it its red color. You can also use it when making salad dressing with oil and vinegar.