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A small bowl of smoked Spanish paprika
Packaged ground and whole dried paprika for sale at a Belgrade marketplace.
The various shapes and colors of the capsicum fruit used to prepare paprika.


Paprika is a spice made from the grinding of dried fruits of Capsicum annuum (e.g., bell peppers or chili peppers). In many European countries, the word paprika also refers to bell peppers themselves. The seasoning is used in many cuisines to add color and flavor to dishes. Paprika can range from sweet (mild, not hot) to spicy (hot). Flavors also vary from country to country.

Etymology

According to Hindu legend, Paprika is said to have been named after a religious Indian figure named "Rysh Paprike". It has also been speculated that Paprika is a derivation of the Serbian word 'paprena' which means 'fiery', then apparently forming it into 'paprika'. An alternative claim is that 'paprika' is derived from the Latin 'piper' (pepper) through Slavic diminutive forms ('pepperke', 'pipeka'), and came into currency in 1775.

Usage

Paprika is used as an ingredient in a broad variety of dishes throughout the world. Paprika is principally used to season and color rices, stews, and soups, such as goulash, and in the preparation of sausages as an ingredient that is mixed with meats and other spices.

Hungarymarker is a major source of high-quality paprika, in grades ranging from very sweet with a deep bright red color (különleges "special") to rather hot with a brownish orange color (erős "strong").

In Spain, paprika is known as pimentón, and is quite different in taste; pimentón has a distinct, smokey flavor and aroma, as it is dried by smoking, typically using oak wood. Pimentón is a key ingredient in several Spanish sausage products, such as chorizo or sobrasada, as well as much Spanish cooking. Outside of Spain pimentón is often referred to as simply "smoked paprika" and can be found in varying intensities from sweet and mild (dulce), medium hot (agridulce), or very hot and spicy (picante).

According to an old Hungarian saying, good paprika burns twice. Paprika contains strong spices, these may cause a burning sensation in the mucuous membranes of the anus.

Nutrition

Capsicum peppers used for paprika are unusually rich in vitamin C, a fact discovered in 1932 by Hungary's 1937 Nobel prize-winner Albert Szent-Györgyi. Much of the vitamin C content is retained in paprika, which contains more vitamin C than lemon juice by weight.

Paprika is also high in other antioxidants, containing about 10% of the level found in açaí berries. Prevalence of nutrients, however, must be balanced against quantities ingested, which are generally negligible for spices.

See also



References

  1. "Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Selected Foods – 2007", United States Department of Agriculture, November 2007.


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