by Sanja Movrin Turković
If you have visited Croatia, or anywhere in the region, then you will be familiar with Ajvar.
A popular dipping sauce with meats, and particularly ćevapčići, ajvar is a pepper-based condiment which also is great even as a spread on bread.
Homemade ajvar is the best and whilst it is labour intensive to make, it will be worth it. Traditionally, ajvar is prepared in autumn, when the peppers are most abundant, and is conserved in glass jars and consumed the year.
This recipe will produce 4 large jars and 1 small jar of ajvar.
Sweet pepper ‘Red bull’s horn’ – 10 kg
Eggplant – 2.5 kg
Garlic – 1
Chili peppers (hot) – 3
Oil – 5 decilitre
Salt – 3 tablespoons
Vinegar – 1.5 decilitre
1. Roast the peppers and eggplant – ready when skin blackened (10-15 minutes)
2. Once roasted let them rest in a closed dish, to allow them to cool down, making it easy to remove the skin.
3. Carefully peel off the charred skin and remove the seeds from the peppers. Scoop out the flesh of the eggplant and discard the skin.
4. Ground the peppers and eggplant – adding the garlic and finely chopped chili peppers (best in a food processor)
5. Heat 2 decilitres of oil (not too hot) and add to the mashed mixture. Mix in the oil well.
6. Add the salt and vinegar. Add the remaining oil gradually.
8. Stew in a pot for at least an hour and a half.
9. Once it is cooked put into the jars (make sure jars are clean and heated up). Close them and turn them upside down for 2-3 minutes then turn the right way up again.
10. Cover with a cloth and leave to cool. They are then ready to store in a cool and dark place and ready to consume when required.
(Photos: Sanja Movrin Turković)