My grandmother, who loved to cook, would tell everyone that came to visit that she had made something “especially for you”. As more people arrived, you realized that she loved cooking for everyone…each person was special to her…which made her extra-special…
One of the things that I enjoy most is cooking for others. It decompresses me after a busy day or a crazy week. I enjoy planning an enticing menu, preparing the food and seeing the satisfied faces as they enjoy the meal “made especially for them”.
While brainstorming ideas on what to make with the spice Paprika, I decided to create recipes for a Paprika Party! This so-called “basic spice” (which up until now has been nothing more than a mere garnish in my kitchen) has a plethora of flavors, colors and health benefits.
I hope this article inspires you to try Paprika for more than just dusting your “deviled eggs” and to make something memorable for those people in your life that are special to you.
What is Paprika?
Paprika is the powder form of the capsicum peppers (e.g., bell peppers or chili peppers). There are many varieties of Paprika peppers which are mainly grown in Hungary and Spain. The peppers are picked, dried and milled.
The Spanish were the first to create the powdered form of Paprika. When Christopher Columbus returned from his trip to the Americas, he presented the King and Queen of Spain with capsicum peppers as gifts. However, Paprika was not introduced to Hungary until the 16-17th centuries.
Nowadays, you can easily find many varieties of Paprika at your local supermarket. Like most spices, Paprika also needs to be stored in a cool and dark location away from direct sunlight. It does not have a long shelf life, so it is best to buy Paprika in small quantities.
Below is a break down on the various types of Paprika that you can choose from.
Plain Paprika is bland which is why it is often used as a garnish for deviled eggs and potato salad.
Depending on the type of pepper used, the flavor profile for Hungarian Paprika ranges from sweet to very hot. The color ranges from mild to bright red. The brightest red is considered to be the hottest.
There are six types of Hungarian Paprika:
1. Special quality (Különleges) – Mild flavor, Vibrant Red
2. Delicate (csípősmentes csemege) – Mild flavor, Light Red
3. Noble sweet (édesnemes) – Sweet flavor, Bright Red
4. Semi-sweet (félédes) – Sweet flavor with trace of heat
5. Rose (rózsa) – Mild flavor with trace of heat, Light Red
6. Hot (erős) – Hottest of all paprikas, Light Brown-Orange
Spanish Paprika (Also known as Pimentón)
Depending upon the amount of seeds included when milling the peppers, the flavor profile of Smoky Spanish Paprika ranges from sweet to hot.
There are three types of Spanish Paprika:
1. Dulce (sweet) – Sweet & Smoky flavor, Dark red.
2. Agridulce (bittersweet or semi-sweet) – Bitter & Sharp flavor, Dark Red
3. Picante (hot) – Hot flavor, Deep Dark Red
*Note: Be sure to read the ingredient list on the Paprika before you purchase it. Sometimes, manufacturers add either MSG or an artificial smoky flavor.
Tips for Cooking with Paprika
1. Paprika has a high sugar content. If it is cooked too long, it will become bitter.
2. Both Hot Paprika and Smoked Paprika can easily overpower your recipe. Be sure to adjust the amount of Paprika you use to suit your personal taste.
3. Paprika is a great substitute for chili powder (especially for those who love the flavor of chili powder but can do without the heat). One cool tip that I read is useful when you use too much chili powder. Basically, adding the spice Paprika will balance the heat of the chili powder without disrupting the flavor profile of what you are preparing (rule of thumb is to add double the amount of chili powder).
Note: Home remedies should not be tried without consulting the physician.
- Loaded with vitamin C.
- Aids digestion
- Contains anti-oxidants
- Increases metabolism
- Clears pulmonary and nasal congestion
- Improves blood pressure and circulation
Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Paprika Party Mix
2 cups raw Almonds
1/2 cup raw Sunflower Seeds
1/2 cup Dried Cranberries
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon Hot Hungarian Paprika
1 teaspoon Sweet Paprika
1-1/2 tablespoons Sea Salt
- In a small bowl, mix together the sea salt and paprika. Set aside.
- Place the almonds and the sunflower seeds in a microwavable bowl.
- Microwave for 3-4 minutes (in 30 second increments) until golden brown.
- Add dried cranberries.
- Drizzle the nut/seeds with olive oil and sprinkle with salt/paprika mixture.
- Stir to combine.
- Store in an air-tight container.
*Variation: Cumin pairs well with Paprika. Add 1/4 teaspoon on cumin seeds to the salt/paprika mixture.
Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Chocolate Paprika Fudge
12 oz Bittersweet Chocolate chips
6 oz Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
1 14-oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk
Pinch of Kosher Salt
1-1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Sweet Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Unsweetened Dark Cocoa
- Line a 8×8 square pan with aluminum foil and set aside.
- In a heavy saucepan, over low heat, melt the chocolate chips with the sweetened condensed milk and kosher salt.
- Remove from heat. Stir vanilla extract.
- Spread chocolate mixture into the prepared pan.
- Sprinkle with the Paprika/Cocoa mixture.
- Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.
- Lift fudge out of pan and peel off the aluminium foil.
- Cut into 36 squares.
(my take on a Michelada…especially for my husband)
1 ice-cold Mexican Beer
2 tablespoons of Kosher Salt
1 tablespoon of Sweet or Hot Paprika
2 tablespoons of fresh Lime Juice
1-2 dashes of your favorite Hot Sauce
1 dash of Soy Sauce
1 dash of Worcestershire Sauce
- Mix together the salt and Paprika on a small plate.
- Rim a glass with a little lime juice and then dip in the salt and paprika mixture to cover the top of the glass.
- Add lime juice, hot sauce, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and a pinch of black pepper.
- Slowly pour in beer into your prepared glass.
*Note: Not spice enough for you, add more hot sauce or Paprika.
Gypsy World Spice Cafe Recipe – Nuttella Spice-tini
1 oz. Godiva Chocolate Liqueur
2 oz. Vodka
1 teaspoon Nutella
3/4 teaspoon Sweet Paprika, divided
1/2 teaspoon Cocoa Powder
1 packet Splenda
- Mix together 1/2 teaspoon of Sweet Paprika, Cocoa Powder and Splenda. Set aside.
- Add the Chocolate Liqueur, Vodka, Nutella and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of Sweet Paprika to a Martini shaker.
- Whisk rigorously to blend the Nutella.
- Add ice and give a good shake.
- Rim the glass with vodka, chocolate liqueur or water.
- Dip glass into the Sweet Paprika, Cocoa, Splenda mixture.
- Carefully pour into prepared glass.
Variation: If you do not have Nutella, swap out the 1 oz chocolate liqueur for 1/2 oz. Add 1/2 oz of Frangelico.