Sweet paprika is one of Hungary’s most popular spices found in many traditional dishes of the country, whether it is paprika chicken, goulash or stew. Sweet paprika also serves as an important basis for various pies, spice mixtures and ready-made dishes in the country. In Hungarian cities such as Kalocsa or Szeged, paprika has a long history.
There isn’t only one type of Hungarian sweet paprika though: although it is difficult to find more than one variety outside of Hungary, Hungarian shops offer a whole series of different paprika types. The one called “különleges” (special) has a more vivid color and a milder than average. Semi-sweet paprika, as its name suggests, is not the sweetest version, and it is slightly weaker than különleges, so it can be a good choice for those who don’t like overly spicy dishes. It is worth mentioning the csípősmentes (not hot) and csípős (hot) csemege types, which both can be recognized by their pungency. Rózsa paprika (rose) is recommended for those who prefer milder tastes and want to give their food a unique color.
The most popular version of sweet paprika is called édesnemes, which can be found in a number of stores outside of Hungary. This is a universally used paprika type and it is perfect for most recipes: if a recipe does not specifically mention a paprika type, it is recommended to use édesnemes. Thanks to its mild, barely noticeable pungency, it is easy for everyone to eat. Sweet paprika also has a smoked variant, which is particularly popular in Spanish areas.
This type is great for achieving more distinctive flavors, but it is highly recommended to use it in smaller quantities in order to not suppress the other spices.
Sweet paprika is becoming more and more popular in other countries as well. For example, an extremely delectable Hungarian specialty called chicken paprikash has become a big favorite in the United States. However, this spice is not only ideal for complex recipes, but also excellent for simpler roasts, or you can just use it to add a little extra character and color to fried eggs, hummus or potato salad.