Ever heard of the spice called paprika? Well, you might have become an avid fan of deviled eggs from eating one (or a couple more) from last week’s party or potato salad from Thanksgiving. And chances are, you’ve wondered what that red powder you see sprinkled all over the eggs and salad is. That’s paprika!
Although its use in American cooking is more of a food coloring than a spice, others have been using it to spruce up the flavor of their dishes. From goulash to chili con carne, there are plenty of dishes where paprika can be used for. It’s also easy to find paprika substitute options if you suddenly run out of it from frequent use. Let’s find out more about paprika, the different types of paprika, and other vital things.
What Is Paprika?
Often known as a staple in most spice cabinets, paprika is made from the pods or combination of dried sweet and hot peppers belonging to the Capsicum annuum family. Available in various colors such as yellow, orange, and red. Of the three colors, crimson red is known for being the most versatile and well-known worldwide. Rich in antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, it is mostly used as a seasoning for dishes and garnishing to add color and flavor to recipes.
While its use in American cooking is overlooked at times, the same cannot be said for Hungarian, Spanish, Indian cuisines, and more. Initially exuding a sweet flavor, you will soon find out that its heat level differs based on the paprika variety used. Hence, you’ll find it used in stews, rice and egg dishes, marinades, barbecue sauces, and many more.
What Are the Different Types of Paprika?
The memorable bright red powder is produced by grinding a variety of pepper pods, but the color changes based on the variety of paprika used. The flavor can also change from sweet to hot and anything in between.
Basic/Regular or Sweet
This is the type of paprika you’ll find in the spice aisle of most supermarkets. With a bright red color, the mild flavor hints that there isn’t much heat or sweetness to it. This makes it the perfect garnish to be sprinkled on deviled eggs and potato dishes or to liven up the color and flavor of grilled meat. The peppers used may come from California, South America, and others. If you don’t know what paprika type to use for a certain recipe, then this one would be fine.
Spanish or Smoked
This paprika variety is created using smoked peppers dried over oak fires. The process allows it to give that rich, smoky flavor to any dish it is added to. Available in a variety of heat levels, people interested in using this type will find Spanish paprika in mild or sweet, bittersweet or medium-hot, and hot or Picante flavors. It’s perfect for paella and other dishes in that you want the smoky flavor to come out.
Hungarian or Hot
By now, you know that Hungary loves paprika so much that it’s utilized in almost all typical Hungarian cuisines. And it’s not a surprise that there are different types of Hungarian paprika available in their markets. With different degrees of flavor and heat, you can use it to make yourself a traditional Hungarian dish called goulash or add it to any dish that you like hot.
What Are the Benefits of This Spice?
Paprika may only be a spice for some, but it packs plenty of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to provide people with health benefits.
Paprika may have anticancer effects
Did you know that this red powder may protect you against cancer? Oxidative stress can increase your chances of developing certain cancers and the carotenoids present in several paprika types have been shown to limit the damage done by oxidative to humans. On the other hand, the capsaicin component of the spice may deter the growth and survival of cancer cells throughout the body. To explore more of its possible anticancer effects, extensive research should be done.
Packed with nutrients such as Vitamin A, E, and more
Loaded with several antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, people who frequently add a touch of paprika to their dishes will benefit from having a source of Vitamin A for a healthy immune system, growth, and development. You can also have stronger teeth and bones due to the potassium and calcium found in the spice. Other nutrients your body can get include vitamins B6, E, and K, iron, and more.
May help in boosting eye health
Do you want to improve your vision? A dash of paprika daily may help you achieve that as it contains nutrients such as beta carotene, vitamin E, and more. Helping reduce the oxidative stress your eyes undergo due to all the lights, it can sharpen your seeing ability, especially at night. Age-related macular degeneration could also be slowed down due to the vitamin E it contains.
Now you know that paprika is more than just a spice. Loved for its bright red color and varying levels of heat, it offers plenty more benefits to people. Give it a try and add it to a variety of dishes you’ll be making today!
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