An Introduction to Hungarian Paprika

An Introduction to Hungarian Paprika

Whenever I am going travelling, shopping for souvenirs isn’t actually on the highest of my listing. Sure, I’d get a fridge magnet from an fascinating place like Sanliurfa or perhaps some good material, however my favorite gadgets to carry house from overseas are substances to cook dinner with.

While I visited Hungary, I made a decision to do a little bit of a deep dive right into a spice that has all the time been in my kitchen, however I hadn’t actually paid a lot consideration to: paprika. Aside from thermal baths, maybe what Hungary is greatest recognized for is the colorful pink spice that’s in a lot of its nationwide dishes.

I’m now absolutely stocked with many several types of paprika, and right here’s what I used to be in a position to be taught throughout my current journey to Budapest.

Why Is Paprika So Popular in Hungary?

Paprika, which is produced from peppers, was launched to Hungary by the Turks within the sixteenth century. Peppers have been initially used as decorations, and never for cooking or making the spice.

Peasants, shepherds, and herdsmen who had extra interplay with the Turks have been first uncovered to paprika as a foodstuff and spice, and commenced to season their meals with it. As time wore on, these in increased courses took be aware of utilizing paprika in cooking, and commenced to make use of it, too.

Paprika was launched to Hungary within the sixteenth century

Paprika has turn into a important ingredient in a lot of Hungary’s nationwide dishes. You’ll discover a vibrant pink or orange color in gulyás (goulash), csirke paprikás (rooster paprikash), pörkölt (meat stew), and plenty of different Hungarian dishes.

In Hungary, probably the most beneficial rising areas for peppers are within the Kalocsa and Szeged areas in southern Hungary. Peppers want loads of sunshine to ripen and turn into candy, and the local weather in these areas is ideal for the plant.

How Is Paprika Made?

Typically, ripe peppers are picked in September after which dried in electrical ovens. Prior to the appearance of automated machines, farmers would cling the peppers to dry within the sunshine or place them in scorching ovens.

Once the peppers have been completely dried out, they’re crushed and floor right into a nice powder. This course of was completed by foot and with a mortar and pestle, however that guide course of has since been changed with computerized machines.

Originally, it was troublesome to manage the warmth stage of paprika, because the veins and seeds of the peppers needed to be manually eliminated previous to being floor. Some capsaicin, which is what makes peppers spicy, all the time remained within the powder, nevertheless it was mainly inconceivable to manage.

In the 1800s, the Pálfy brothers, who hailed from Szeged, discovered a technique to effectively take away veins and seeds, which paved the way in which for increased scale manufacturing of the spice. Further developments in plant cross-breeding and machine automation resulted in varied forms of paprika and mass manufacturing.

Paprika is available in completely different grades and flavours

Different Grades of Paprika

After talking with resort employees and a few locals, I spent the higher a part of a morning on the Great Market Hall in Budapest talking with shopkeepers about several types of paprika. I used to be shocked to be taught that there are roughly eight completely different grades of paprika, that are supposedly distinct from one another.

Prior to my go to, I used to be conscious that there have been things like scorching paprika, candy paprika, and smoked paprika, however I didn’t understand that I used to be actually simply scratching the floor.

Chat with shopkeepers on the Great Market Hall or different markets in Budapest to be taught extra about paprika

I used to be profitable to find seven of the eight grades, together with varied smoked variations of some.

At the mildest finish of the paprika spectrum is különleges, or “special quality”. This is probably the most delicate kind of paprika, and usually has the brightest pink color.

Csípősmentes csemege, or “delicate” paprika, remains to be delicate, however has a richer flavour than különleges.

Csípősmentes csemege paprika has a fragile and delicate flavour

Csemege, or “exquisite delicate” paprika, has a bit extra warmth than csípősmentes csemege, however isn’t as pungent as different sorts of paprika.

Csípős csemege, or “pungent exquisite delicate” paprika, turns up the warmth dial a bit greater than csemege, however isn’t as candy as a number of the following varieties.

Édesnemes, or “noble sweet” paprika, has a bit of warmth and comes with a vibrant pink color. This is the frequent kind of paprika, and certain what most individuals have of their kitchen cabinets.

Édesnemes paprika is the commonest kind, and is usually bought as Hungarian candy paprika in North America

Félédes, or “half-sweet” paprika, strikes a steadiness between candy and scorching.

Rózsa, or “rose” paprika, has a lightweight pink or pinkish color, and is mildly spicy. It’s solely accessible within the spring, and sadly I wasn’t capable of finding any in Budapest throughout my go to in September.

Erős, or “hot” paprika, has a rusty brown or orange color. It’s the most popular number of paprika, and can even vary in warmth from pleasantly spicy to turning your mouth right into a fiery inferno.

Erős paprika may be extraordinarily spicy

You’ll additionally be capable to discover completely different grades of paprika in smoked varieties. The odor is completely scrumptious, and provides some depth and complexity to your dishes.

For smoked paprika, search for ones which were naturally smoked with beechwood, as they’re superior to all different smoked varieties.

Smoked paprika provides a lovely smoky flavour to dishes

The greatest paprika powders are selfmade. Check with the shopkeepers to search out out that are selfmade and that are mass-produced, or higher but, go to one of many cities the place paprika is from for the perfect costs and high quality.

Since returning house, I’ve been experimenting with the completely different grades of paprika. While the variations may be fairly refined, particularly in case your tastebuds aren’t very delicate, the standard and depth of flavour is noticeable when in comparison with the standard “garden-variety” paprika I’ve been shopping for up till now.

Aside from the dried sorts of paprika, maintain a watch out for paprika paste, too. It normally is available in steel tubes, and might both used as a alternative for dried paprika, or as a condiment on cooked meals.

Buy some paprika paste if you’re visiting Hungary

I used to be capable of finding a couple of completely different sorts of paprika paste, together with csípős, csemege, and erős. I additionally got here throughout gulyáskrém, a paste used as a base for goulash fabricated from paprika, onions, tomatoes, and spices, in addition to tubes of garlic paste.

Paprika paste has turn into a staple in our kitchen, and the flavour it provides to dishes is divine. You’ll discover it at a really engaging value in Budapest, so top off earlier than heading again house, the place it may be rather more costly.


If you’re visiting Hungary, remember to choose up some paprika to carry house as a memento. You doubtless received’t discover higher paprika at such an inexpensive value, and the standard will change the way in which you store for and use paprika.

If you’ve the prospect to test in with an area, remember to get their recommendation on the place to search out the perfect paprika. In Budapest, your greatest wager is probably going on the Great Central Market, however even Hungarian paprika bought in grocery shops is probably going a lot better than what you possibly can usually get in North America.

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