A spice that's central to Hungarian cuisine, paprika is made by drying a particular type of sweet pepper, then grinding them to a fine, rich red powder.
Its flavour varies from mild to pretty robust, but it's never as hot as chilli or cayenne - unlike those fiery spices, its main purpose is to add flavour and colour, more than heat. Paprika is also used in Austrian, Spanish, Indian and Moroccan food.
All year round.
Choose the best
It depends how hot or sweet you would like it - packet labels should give a guide to pungency. Hungarian paprika has a balanced sweetness - warm, rather than hot. If it is labelled 'noble sweet', it will be the best quality.
In comparison to the Hungarian stuff, Spanish paprika is a little milder and is marked either 'dulce' (sweet and mild), 'agridulce' (bittersweet) or 'picante' (hot). The Spaniards also make a version using peppers that are wood-smoked before being ground - look for smoked paprika or 'picante pimenton' on the label.
Keep in an airtight container in a cool dark place, it will last a couple of months.
Can't find it
Try cayenne or chilli.