If you think about Hungarian meal, you will definitely think of a cooked dish with red color, thank to the widly used paprika. Why do Hungarians use so much paprika in their food, when the country is so far from Asia, where the chilli is so common, or South America, where the paprika is originally from? In the middle of Eastern Europe, it might be a bit strange, that paprika has become the most widely used vegetable and seasoning in our everyday life. We produce it in such a high quality, that Gordon Ramsey suggests to all food lovers to fill up your kitchen cabinet with the Hungarian paprika. Due to the favourable climate and soil, the quality of the Hungarian paprika is different from the others, it is more determinative, has a richer taste, and the color is bright red.
It has been a long time already since the first plants have arrived to the country. The production started in the 18th century, around Szeged. Szeged, Kalocsa and the great plain (the region has the most sunlight in the country) still is the most important paprika production area. It took only a little time to get to love the raw vegetable and also the dried grounded paprika. It even became a part of the Kalocsa folk motifs.
By the 19th century paprika had changed the whole Hungarian cuisine. We first started to use it instead of pepper ( first name was “törökbors”-“Turkish pepper”), and now it is common to season soups, vegetable dishes, curd, stews, open faced sandwiches and more, with dried grounded paprika. Due to its vitamin C content (the disovery for which Hungarian professor, Szent-Györgyi Albert received Nobel prize in 1937) it is also very healthy.
On the current production area in the country, we produce the most variety of paprika types in Europe. Besides the popular use of grounded red paprika powder, the raw vegetable (green or red) is also served in many ways in Hungary: in salads, stuffed as a main dish, in pörkölt, lecsó, or paprikás as one of the main ingredients, pickled and more.
Paprika products are widely used in the Hungarian kitchen. Basically, you cannot find a family household, nor a restaurant without Erős Pista (from hot to very hot grounded red paprika, not dried), or Piros Arany (csemege or csípős – sweet or hot), these provide some extra seasoning to the dishes, if necessary, and simply makes our food more enjoyable.
The different grades of paprika are:
- Special quality (különleges) the mildest, very sweet with a deep bright red color
- Delicate (csípősmentes 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 spiciest paprika (wikipedia)
In case you would like to know more about the Hungarian paprika, visit the Hungarian Paprika Museum, in Szeged:
Are you ready to try some delicious Hungarian dishes, seasoned with great quality Hungarian paprika?