Generally speaking, paprika is a mild spice. The form of it that is easiest to find in the west is used more for its ability to color dishes than for any ability to flavor them. Its mildness means that you have some leeway if you want to add a lot of it to a dish. You will have to go pretty far overboard for there to be any danger of it ruining your dish. That said, there are different varieties of paprika and some of them are more pungent than others. If you add too much paprika of any kind to your dish, the following tips should help.
You have a few options when it comes to the effective dilution of a dish with too much paprika. The first is simply to add more of the ingredients in the dish. This can be as simple as moving the dish to a larger vessel and simply doubling everything in the recipe except for the paprika.
This will not work if you don’t have any more of the requisite ingredients or lack a large enough vessel. In those cases, another way to do would be to split the recipe and store or discard one half. You can then add ingredients to the remaining half to make it up to a full recipe.
Both of these options work best with wet dishes like stews and soups, but they result in you having more food than you originally intended. Even so, they are often the most reliable methods for toning down excess spice.
Add a little dairy
A dairy product like sour cream or whole milk may not be out of place in a dish that requires paprika. The most famous dish that has paprika as an essential ingredient is Hungary’s chicken paprikash and it actually lists sour cream as one of the main ingredients. Dairy can coat the tongue and mute some of the more bitter notes that you may get with too much paprika.
If you used too much of a hot paprika, a dairy product can tone down the heat by breaking up the capsaicin that causes the hot sensation. The capsaicin can then be washed away. Think of dairy as acting on the capsaicin the way dish soap acts on grease.
Sweeten the dish
Like many spices, too much paprika can cause bitterness. This is worse with the more flavorful varieties, but can be a problem even with the mild ones. The best way to counter bitter flavors is to add a little sweetness. You can opt for any sweetener, ranging from commonplace ones like sugar and honey to more exotic options like agave nectar.
You can use sweeter vegetables as well. For example, both carrots and corn can bring up the sugar content in a dish and thus mute bitterness. It all depends on whether the sweetener has additional flavor notes that you want in your dish. You will want to try this option with considerable caution as too much can throw off the flavor profile of many savory dishes.
There are many ways to make a dish more tart, but the easiest ways for most cooks is simply to add some vinegar or lemon juice. Both can help to mask the bitterness from the paprika while also complementing the flavor notes of the different paprika varieties. Acidity pairs well with sweeter notes as well as smokiness and heat.