Paprika may be a Hungarian spice, but it has a Mexican origin. It’s also incredibly popular in Cajun cooking. So much so in fact, that many people who enjoy this cuisine will dish up dinner with a jar of paprika on the table – just like many of us would add salt and pepper grinder sets.
Paprika is popular in any Mexican cookbook or Mediterranean cookbook. It finds its way into countless different meals and can turn an otherwise bland dish into something that’s actually rather satisfying to eat. To learn more about where this herb comes from, how to use it, and why it belongs in all spice racks… read on!
Origin and History of Paprika
Paprika is actually made from ground chili peppers, and in that way it has a lot in common with chili. The peppers originate in central Mexico, hence the Mexican start. The name paprika however is Hungarian in origin, with the root coming from the Greek ‘peperi’ and Latin ‘piper’. Both these terms refer to peppers.
The peppers used for making paprika came from Christopher Columbus who brought them to Europe, eventually spreading to Britain. Prior to this, the plants were used in Hungary and throughout Europe primarily as house plants!
Paprika Uses in Cooking
The main question that you may have when using paprika then, is “how is this different from chili powder?”. Seeing as it is also made from ground chili, this is an understandable mistake. What’s more is that both are spicy, and both look very similar – with only a slight difference in the precise color tone.
The main difference between these two then is the source pepper used to make them. Ground chili powders typically used smoked chipotles or other chilis that will have the name denoted clearly on the packaging. Paprika on the other hand is specifically produced by particular peppers from those paprika countries.
The taste is also slightly different. Paprika powders are slightly sweet and spicy, but they are also somewhat more peppery than chilli. Chili on the other hand tends to be hotter and sharper.
Paprika is commonly used in a range of dishes, and is regularly added to stock pots, sauce pans, and more. You’ll find it in goulash, and rice dishes. You will also find that it can be used as a form of food coloring where it will be able to add a slightly red color.
The most important tip is not to burn paprika. The best way to avoid this is to add it to a little bit of oil first. Use this to fill the pan and then add it.
You can try adding paprika to a little barbeque sauce to give your barbeque all the more flavor. It’s also great when added to chicken. In fact, a very easy meal is to put a whole chicken in the oven with an oven mitt on a tray, with some oil and paprika. This makes an otherwise plain chicken into something much more enjoyable.
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