What is Ajvar? According to Wikipedia, it is a condiment made from sweet bell peppers and eggplants. This relish has become a popular side dish in almost all countries of the Balkan Peninsula.
What is the origin of this delight? The name comes from the Turkish word “havyar,” which means caviar. That tells something about the quality of this condiment.
It's not easy to define Ajvar. It's partly a spread, partly a sauce, partly a dip, and partly a salad. Maybe it will look like Urnebes salad, but it has nothing to do with it.
The closest to truth is to call it a creamy spread made principally of red bell peppers and oil. It could be a snack on its own – spread on the bread or a side dish that adds flavor to everything. Traditionally, it prevails as a salad alongside the appetizers – cheese, prosciutto, etc.
What does Ajvar contain?
It is a typical autumn and winter condiment. It is usually made from roasted or cooked peppers (paprika). Depending on the region, it could be made exclusively from bell peppers.
Chili peppers could be added, making it piquant or even hot, but it is better with sweet peppers. Depending on the taste, some people like to add eggplants or tomatoes.
Why is Ajvar healthy? It almost has no calories because the pepper loses all its caloric properties after roasting, while it remains too rich in fiber. You must buy this condiment from verified producers, with a label that indicates whether it contains preservatives.
Homemade Ajvar Preparation
Ajvar is relatively easy to prepare. The time you will need for preparation depends on the number of peppers (or eggplants) you want to use!
Below are five steps in preparation for this condiment if you decide to prepare Ajvar of 12 kg peppers and 6 kg of eggplants. You will need one litter of sunflower oil and one head of garlic.
- The first step, which is also the longest, is roasting the peppers and eggplant. It is better to have a wood-fired oven, but an electric oven will do! Of course, paprika can be “boiled” before grinding instead of baking, but baking gives a unique flavor to the Ajvar. NB. Bake peppers and eggplants a day earlier because of the long baking time.
- After baking, peeling the skin of the pepper and eggplant follows, which is very simple. The secret is that the peppers must be hot as the skin comes off without problems. NB. Eggplants take a little longer to bake, but I don't think there is any problem with peeling them.
- After you finish peeling, it's time for grinding. I suggest using an electric meat grinder. Also, the older manual grinder will do. I mix the peppers and eggplants during grinding because the eggplant is dry and the pepper is more moist, so it speeds up the process.
- After grinding, put the ingredients in a pot with sunflower oil. You can add the oil as long as the mixture absorbs.
- The final step consists of adding salt and vinegar (if you want). Mix it well and put it on the stove for 1-2 hours (low-to-medium heat). You can mash it a little from time to time. After you cool down to room temperature, fill the jars, store them in the refrigerator, and enjoy in your Ajvar!
It is good to know that ajvar contains vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium and iron. Nutritionists often recommend it to people who want to lose extra pounds or reduce the amount of fat in their body.
Where to buy Ajvar
If you don't want to prepare this condiment yourself, you can find ready-made jars here! There are different kinds of this yummy delicate condiment. I suggest Podravka ajvar, produced in Croatia.