Ajvar is a Serbian roasted eggplant-capsicum mixture, sometimes referred to as vegetarian caviar. It can be mashed or left chunky, depending on personal taste, and served as a relish, vegetable or spread on country-style white bread like pogacha as an appetiser. Its smoky flavour is a great match for grilled or roasted meats, especially lamb.
You can vary this recipe by adding chopped hot red chillies and onion, and substituting red wine or red wine vinegar for the lemon juice. Bulgarian kiopoolu is similar but it uses green capsicum instead of red and tomatoes are added.
Ajvar - Roasted Eggplant Pepper Spread
- 1½ kg large eggplants
- 6 large red capsicum (bell pepper)
- salt and black pepper
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- juice of 1 lemon
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley, optional
- Heat oven to 250°C. Place washed eggplants and capsicum on a baking sheet with a lip to catch any juices, and roast until their skins blister and turn black, about 30 minutes.
- Place roasted vegetables in a heatproof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let them steam for 10 minutes.
- Peel off and discard blackened skins, stems and seeds. In a large bowl, mash or chop vegetables, depending on how smooth or chunky you like your ajvar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add garlic and lemon juice, and drizzle in oil, stirring constantly.
- Transfer to a glass dish and sprinkle with chopped parsley for garnish, if desired. Store covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week.
Similar Spreads and Sauces
- Ljutenica, a similar relish in Bulgarian, Macedonian and Serbian cuisines
- Pindjur, a similar relish in Bulgarian, Macedonian and Serbian cuisines
- Zacuscă, a similar relish in Romanian cuisine
- Kyopolou, an eggplant-based relish in Bulgarian and Turkish cuisines
- Biber salçası, a Turkish paste made from red peppers alone
- Achar, a similar relish of Indo European origin in South Asian cuisines