Tweens Masala

Paprika, Hungarian, Smoked (Sweet)

$6.58

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Description

Barn door red and with a strong smoky flavor from being smoked over oak, this Hungarian sweet smoked paprika powder boasts a mighty sweet bell pepper flavor that’s very earthy and somewhat vegetal. It’s best for soups, salads, vegetable dishes and grain dishes where it doesn’t have to compete with stronger flavors.

If there was any spice with a more complicated history or confusing categorization, it must be paprika. Paprika is made from the Capsicum annuum plant, which sounds simple enough. However, there are dozens of varieties of this pepper – both chile and bell. Yet, genetically, they’re all the same species. (Think of it in the way all people are human, but look very different from each other.)

Paprika is technically native to North and Central America and was used by the indigenous peoples as a food and as a coloring agent. Spanish explorers became enamored with the plant and brought it back to Spain along with tomatoes, potatoes, and other produce. The Spanish – particularly the lower classes, as the heat of paprika was considered undignified by the rich – began using the seeds in food preparation.

The seeds spread past Iberia to Turkey and throughout the Ottoman Empire, as well as throughout Europe to the Balkan countries and Russia. Later on it became endeared by India and the Middle East. And, of course, each country began breeding it to their tastes; the Spanish by smoking it, the Turks preferring hotter varieties, and the Hungarians loved it sweet and mild. Hungary and Spain, however, are the major producers of paprika, with the United States as a distant third.

Thus, we have endless varieties of paprika. Whew.

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