Paprika is a spice made from the grinding of dried fruits of Capsicum annuum (e.g., bell peppers or chili peppers). In many European languages, the word paprika refers to bell peppers themselves. The seasoning is used in many cuisines to add color and flavor to dishes. Paprika can range from mild to hot. Flavors also vary from country to country.
In modern times, the word paprika is said to be derived from the Hungarian paprika, meaning pepper (Capsicum). 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.
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.
Paprika , for example, has a distinct smokey flavor and aroma as it is dried by smoking, typically using oak wood. It is available in three versions, mild, moderately spicy and very spicy. Regular unsmoked paprika, known simply as Pimentón, or very hot and spicy (picante).
Hungary is a major source of paprika and is thus more commonly used. It is available in grades ranging as follows: Special quality (Különleges) the mildest, very sweet with a deep bright red color. Delicate (Édes csemege) – color from light to dark red, a mild paprika with a rich flavor. Exquisite Delicate (Csemegepaprika) – similar to Delicate, but more pungent. Pungent Exquisite Delicate (Csípős Csemege, Pikáns) - an even more pungent version of Delicate. Rose (Rózsa) – pale red in color with strong aroma and mild pungency. Noble Sweet (Édesnemes) – the most commonly exported paprika; bright red and slightly pungent. Half-Sweet (Félédes) – A blend of mild and pungent paprikas; medium pungency. Strong (Erős) – light brown in color, the hottest paprika.
According to an old Hungarian saying, good paprika burns twice. Paprika contains strong spices, these may cause a burning sensation in the mucous membranes of the anus.
Paprika can also be used with henna to bring a reddish tint to hair when coloring it. Paprika powder can be added to henna powder when prepared at home.
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.
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