Columbus brought smoked paprika from Central America to Spain, where it was beloved for its fire and punch. Both smoked and sweet paprika are made from the same family of thin, long red peppers, and both lend savory flavors, rather than real heat. Also called pimenton, smoked paprika gives chorizo its bright red color, and lends a woodsy note to meat or veggie dishes. A little goes a long way.
In 2009, Meherwan Irani quit his day job in sales to open his first restaurant – Chai Pani, a unique Indian street food joint in downtown Asheville. Whether it was a midlife crisis or a stroke of genius is debatable. Since then, the self-taught chef has opened four restaurants, one bar, and now, Spicewalla. With four James Beard Award nominations for Best Chef in the Southeast under his belt, he’s finally confident this might just be working out. His restaurants have been written up in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, GQ, Food & Wine, Saveur, USA Today, and Bon Appétit, among others.