Ajvar is a Macedonian traditional dish currently enjoyed in
the countries of the former Yugoslavia, mainly Serbia and Croatia. Ideal accompaniment for meats and ćevapčići!
Its name has Turkish origin due to the 500 years influence of the Turkish in the region, and means “caviar”. That´s why this dish is often referred to as “vegetarian caviar”.
The original version is made with red bell peppers, but it can be made with any variety of red pepper of your preference.
Depending on your choice of ingredients and presentation, the final ajvar could be sweet, piquant or really hot, smashed or chunky, orangey or striking red!
Preheat the oven to 250ºC (or hotter set in your oven).
Wash the peppers and remove their seeds. For an easy way to do this, press with your thumb the core of the pepper (attached to the stalk) down inside, until completely severed from the rest of the pepper.
The seeds will remain attached to the core and by pulling the whole core-stalk out...
it will be easy to remove all of them at once...
to obtain a seedless pepper!
Wash the aubergines...
... and remove the green bits.
Cut the peppers in quarters and the aubergines in halves and roast in a hot oven...
...until the pepper's skin start blistering and blackening and the aubergines get brown (about half and hour).
Remove from the oven.
Before proceeding to peel them off, you can steam the vegetable to facilitate the removal of the skin (optional).
Peel them off and place in a bowl.
You can prepare the relish as smoothy or chunky as you prefer.
I smashed it using a hand blender.
Add the garlic, the chilli pepper, the juice of the lemon and the olive oil.
Season with salt, black pepper and parsley.
Serve as a side dish for meats, it is also ideal to accompany ćevapčići on pita bread with lettuce and a dollop of sour cream!!