January’s spice of the month

With its vivid bright red colour, Paprika is a popular spice found in most kitchens but often confused with ground red chili powder. It has a bittersweet, earthy, mild and fruity tone of sweet pepper, and at times a spicy flavour which makes it stand out!

Packed with nutrients and low in calories, it’s the national spice of Hungary and is great as a dry rub for meats, roasted roots, in soups and stews and perfect for BBQs.

 

What is Paprika?

Paprika, also known as Hungarian spice, is made from dried sweet peppers ground into a fine powder.

It comes in three main varieties sweet, bittersweet and hot varieties, as well as in a range of colours.

There are two main types of  powdered paprika: Hungarian which is bright – or rust red – and with pronounced fruitiness, and Spanish – known as pimenton – which is darker and sweeter. Both are available smoked.

Because of its adaptable flavour, and the many preparations of the spice in Spanish as well as Eastern European traditions, Paprika is used worldwide, especially in rice dishes and stews.

The Origins of Smoked Paprika

Made from the pods of Capsicum annuum, Paprika comes from chilli peppers which are native to tropical areas of Mexico, Central America, South America, and the West Indies. The peppers were introduced to Europe in the  late 15th Century by naval explorers.

The trade in Paprika which started in Spain and Portugal, expanded from the Iberian Peninsula to Africa and Asia, and ultimately reached Central Europe through the Balkans, under the Ottoman rule. The Hungarians adopted it in their cuisine in the 19th Century.

In Spain, Paprika has been known as Pimentón since the 16th century. Smoked paprika is still traditionally made in Spain from pimiento peppers, that have been dried then smoked over an oak fire and finally ground into a fine powder. They have a deep red colour and powerful smoky aroma.

How is Paprika used in cooking?

Paprika is used as an ingredient in numerous dishes throughout the world.

Hungarian national dishes incorporating Paprika include goulash – a meat stew, and paprikash – a recipe combining meat or chicken broth, Paprika and sour cream. In Moroccan cuisine, Paprika is usually mixed with a small amount of olive oil.  In Portugal, many dishes call for a generous amount of Paprika for taste and colour.

Traditionally, smoked Paprika is used in making chorizo sausage and paella, and is also great with meat free ingredients such as potatoes, vegetables, pulses and eggs.

When using smoked Paprika, a little goes a long way as the smokiness can sometimes get a little overpowering if using too much. When experimenting with a new dish, it is best to start off with half a teaspoon and work up from there.

The real draw with this spice is the quality of the smoky variety. Even just a little bit adds an incredibly seductive, smoky flavour and aroma to any dish, producing a rounder flavour to all ingredients, including vegetables.

Enter Our Competition

Be in with a chance of winning a packet of smoked paprika spice by entering our contest here.

Terms and conditions apply – see entry form.

Each month we give away a free recipe relating to our spice of the month via our e-bulletin.


The Spice Larder 

We also sell spice based food and drink in our Spice Larder Store including a spice blend including smoked Paprika and named for a Michelin-start Chef, called Pierre’s Erld Smokey Spice Blend made by Mr Wolf Spices.

For information about the Ginger and Spice Festival and our Spice Larder Store visit the website: www.gingerandspicefest.co.uk