Paprika ‘Laal Shimla Mirch/Kashmiri Chilli’ is a spice which is generally used for seasoning and as a garnish. Offering innumerable health benefits, paprika combines well with other Ayurvedic spices and has been part of traditional system of medicine, all across the globe.
Paprika powder is prepared by grounding dried peppers, bell peppers, and chilli peppers belonging to the Capsicum Annum family. The colour of the spice varies from deep red to orange-red, based on the type of peppers used.
The flavour of Paprika is quite mild as compared to chilli and cayenne peppers as paprika contains small amounts of capsaicin, a compound that gives rise to the burning sensation.
Paprika is available in various varieties such as smoked, hot, and sweet. It is rich in antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins.
Paprika possesses immense nutritional benefits as it contains a range of nutrients like antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. It contains carotenoids in exceptionally high amounts.
One teaspoonful of Paprika, weighing approximately 2 gm contains 5.8 calories, 0.3 gm of protein, 1.1 gm of carbohydrates, 0.7 gm of fibre, 0.3 gm of fats, 3.5 mg calcium, 1.4 mg of vitamin C, 0.6 mg of vitamin E, 1.6 mcg of vitamin K, 0.3 mg of niacin, 0.1 mg of vitamin B6, 2.1 mcg of folate, 0.5 mg of iron, 3.7 mg of magnesium, 6.9 mg of phosphorus, 46.9 mg of potassium, and 0.1 mg of zinc.
Potential Health Benefits of Paprika…
Treats and prevents cancer
1. The presence of the active ingredient, capsaicin helps in treating and preventing cancer. Capsaicin restricts the growth of cancer cells and also suppresses the genes which help the tumour to increase in size.
2. Capsaicin produces anti-inflammatory effects on gastric cancer.
3. Several other compounds present in paprika such as lutein, beta carotene, and zeaxanthin fight oxidative stress thus, reducing the risk of certain cancers.
Reduces hair fall
1. The vitamin B6 content of Paprika prevents hair loss.
2. Paprika, being rich in iron transfers oxygen to the hair follicles thus, promoting hair growth by enhancing the circulation to the scalp.
Promotes sound sleep
The vitamin B content of paprika helps produce sleep hormone, melatonin which helps maintain a normal sleeping cycle.
Reduces blood pressure
Capsaicin content of paprika relaxes the blood vessels thus, reducing increased blood pressure.
Used primarily for colour, flavour and a traditional medicinal herb/spice, paprika is mild compared to other chiilies as it has small amounts of capsaicin.
Other possible benefits…
Apart from the health benefits mentioned above, paprika also produces a few more such as, prevent freckles, prevent wrinkle formation, maintains the hair colour, heals wounds, maintains eye health, absorbs free radicals, helps maintain heart health, aids in treatment for autoimmune conditions, useful in the treatment of diabetes and promotes healthy vision.
It also promotes anti-aging benefits, offers glowing skin, treats skin problems, treats spider veins, possesses anti-inflammatory properties, assists digestion, possesses antibacterial properties, prevents scurvy, prevents anaemia, reduces inflammation and improves cholesterol levels.
How to use Paprika in Cooking?
Paprika is used to season and garnish several dishes. Some of the ways where paprika is used are as follows:
- Used to thicken sauces.
- To flavour lentil, rice, and bean dishes.
- As a spice in salsas, soups, stews, and sauces.
- Season meats, barbecue sauce, eggs, potato salad, and ketchup.
- Sprinkling a dash on dips, roasted potatoes, chopped veggies, cooked rice, and boiled eggs.
How to prepare Paprika Powder at Home?
Take 1 or more large red peppers and peel them. Remove the seeds and the entire white parts from inside. Slice them thin.
Take a sheet of baking paper and spread the slices on it.
On the lowest heat setting, keep the tray of pepper slices into the oven overnight, leaving the oven door slightly open.
Once, the pepper is completely dehydrated, take the peppers out of the oven and allow it to cool.
Break the peppers into small pieces so that it comfortably fits into your grinder.
Remove any big pieces which do not grind and crush the peppers into a fine powder.
Store the spice into an airtight glass jar.