There is no nightshade that I miss more than paprika.
If I knew I could safely eat the occasional nightshade without suffering health consequences, paprika would be my splurge seven times out of ten.
I’ve written elsewhere on The No Nightshade Kitchen about how close to impossible it is to capture the complexity of nightshade peppers with a simple substitution. I’m happy with how Indian long pepper and Grains of Paradise in combination can amplify ginger and peppercorns to approximate a kick. It’s not a capsaicin kick, but it does provide heat and complexity.
But I really didn’t think it was going to be possible to get something that acted like paprika. And this is not paprika. But it really does add a lovely dimension, a unexpected paprika-like combination of complexity, pungency, and heat to foods that normally call for paprika.
Please note: this spice blend will not taste or smell like paprika. It does its facsimile work in the actual food. Also, I have used this is only two dishes so far. It seems entirely likely to me that there are probably better ways to put these these spices in combination. (It’s really good in Smitten Espinaces con Garbonzos!)
But I’m going to push this out now because I’m hoping for some crowdsourcing. Use this as a starting point, a template for your own experimentation going forward.
Please note that, with the exception of turmeric, these spices aren’t stocked by your average grocery store. Occasionally you’ll find sumac and Grains of Paradise in stores that serve more adventurous cooks. Asafetida, and annotto are largely confined to ethnic shops, but I’ve even known Indian shops to not stock asafetida because of its pungency. Red cardamom and Indian long pepper are a long shot and probably most easily procured via the Internet.
Sidenote: If you CAN get all of these locally, without getting in a car, please slide into my DMs. I may want to relocate.
PLEASE NOTE: Annatto is reactive for a surprising number of people. If you’re not aware of having had problems with it in the past, approach this with eyes open.
- 1 teaspoon Grains of Paradise
- 1 teaspoon Indian long pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon sumac
- 1/8 teaspoon red cardamom
- 1/8 teaspoon asafetida (hing)
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/8 teaspoon ground annatto
1Combine ingredients. It’s probable that you have most—if not all—of these ingredients in ground form. If not, grind to create the necessary quantities, then grind everything together again to release and blend. I suspect that due to the extraordinarily pungent nature of asafetida that you don’t want to make up a lot of this and store it. It’s a short term fix. (A week or two seems to be fine.)
2Repeating from above: this spice blend will not taste or smell like paprika. It does its facsimile work in the actual food. It seems entirely likely to that there are probably better ways to put these these spices in combination, depending on the dish you’re making. I look forward to improvements via crowdsourcing.