Roasted capsicum relish | Ajvar

I made this Ajvar recipe the other day and coming home from work on Friday night I just felt completely exhausted; from the work, the people, the general goings on. And hungry, I opened the fridge to find in the ceramic sauce dish (that I used for the photo above) I still had some Ajvar left. And all of a sudden I was so excited! (I know, it’s only Ajvar!) So I made two slices of toast and smothered them with this roast capsicum goodness and the smell and that first bite just made me feel better.

And that’s the thing with Ajvar – it’s comforting.

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Yes, the capsicums really need to be black and blistery

And it doesn’t matter geographically who invented it. My vote goes to the Macedonians but geez, it’s eaten so much around Eastern Europe (and in Croatia) that it’s a staple everywhere. You can’t really turn up to a Croatian house and stay the night without someone asking the next morning if you want Ajvar with your breakfast. Or if someone is making a sandwich. Or with a mezze plate (it is a taste sensation with cold meats). Or as the essential condiment with cevapi (skinless sausages). Ajvar goes with everything.

Of course you can also buy it in glass jars from any deli, no matter where you are in the world. But it’s not the same. I definitely find it too acidic and who wants extra preservatives? When you can make it yourself, to suit your own palate, it’s to your taste.

Traditionally Ajvar would be preserved in the summer for use over the colder months, you can do this as well, but you’ll need a good 20 kilos of capsicums and the space to make it all happen! Or just make it as you need it.

Anyway here is the recipe that I used and it worked a treat!

Ingredients:

  • Five (5) red horn capsicums (peppers)
  • One (1) large eggplant
  • Three (3) cloves of garlic
  • One (1) red chilli (or two-three or none depending on personal taste)
  • 1/3 cup good olive oil
  • One (1) tablespoon white vinegar

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Method:

  1. Turn the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Wash the capsicums, eggplant, chilli. Place the capsicums in a large roasting dish with baking paper, so they aren’t touching each other and roast until they are black and blistery.
  2. Cut the eggplant into two halves. And again place these in a roasting tray (flesh side down) and roast until the skin splits and the chilli is black and blistery.
  3. Remove the capsicum skins, storks and seeds. Do the same for the eggplant and chilli. Note: This takes ages. It’s tempting to put everything under the tap to wash away the seeds, but you will also be washing away flavour, so don’t do this! Just take your time and remove as many seeds as possible.
  4. Take all the roasted ingredients, add the garlic, oil and vinegar and process in a food processor until smooth.
  5. Paths differ here! You can serve at this point. But traditionally you transfer everything to a saucepan and simmer for 20-30 minutes. That’s what I did and it tasted wonderful!
  6. Serve with your favourite dish, or on your charcuterie board, or mezze plate.

Let me know if you try this recipe and what you thought

Dobar Tek! Zivjeli! (Bon Appetit! Cheers and let’s live!)

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