Ajvar is a relish/spread from the Balkans. Authentic ajvar is made from fire roasted red bell peppers (capsicum, paprika), eggplant and a few other ingredients. Ajvar is sort of like tomato sauce/ketchup, but much more. You can use it in place of tomato sauce/ketchup such as with burgers and sausages. You can also use it in ways that you may not normally use tomato sauce/ketchup like as a spread on bread or crackers. Once you taste ajvar there is a risk that you will not go back to tomato sauce/ketchup again. However I am definitely not trying to discourage use of tomato sauce/ketchup.
The world can work in mysterious ways sometimes. I’ve always bought ajvar from the supermarket, it is widely available in Sweden due to a relatively large Balkans community. My friends from Balkans never inspired me to make avjar, instead pings pickings from Malaysia inspired me. And ping got inspiration from me, from my jarred ajvar. Bit of a circular reference here, it probably proves that the world is round!
Ajvar is really simple to make. In a nutshell you roast the vegetables and mix with other ingredients. I’ve checked a number of recipes as well as the list of ingredients on an ajvar jar. Most of the recipes do not use tomatoes but tomato puree is included in the jarred ajvar. It has about 3% puree. Also very few recipes use onions. I’ve decided to use tomato puree and not onions. I will try onions next time.
Ajvar is mildly hot. You can add chillis to suit your taste.
2 large eggplants
6 large red bell peppers
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
½ cup oil
Juice of 1 lemon or 3 tablespoon of vinegar
Salt and black pepper
2-3 tablespoons tomato puree (optional, I used cooked puree)
Chili - finely chopped or minced (optional)
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley (optional)
1. Heat oven to 400F/200C
2. Wash and dry eggplants and peppers. Half the eggplant and bell peppers lengthwise. Discard seeds from the peppers
3. Place eggplant and peppers on a baking tray cut side down and roast until the skins blister and turn black, about 30-45 minutes.
4. Place eggplant and peppers in a heatproof bowl, cover and set aside for about 10 minutes.
5. Remove and discard the skins and mash or chop eggplant and peppers
6. Add all the rest of the ingredients. Ajvar is ready to rock and roll
7. It will keep in a refrigerator for up to 1 week. The taste will develop. I usually freeze in ice cube trays