Key absolutely loves ajvar, but he can never remember how to pronounce it. I dutifully remind him every time that it is aj-var. Well…let me tell you that I have no problems admitting when I am wrong. Especially seeing as only a few weeks ago I wrote about some commonly mis-pronounced food names. Turns out the j is silent in ajvar, so it is pronounced more like eye-var. My bad.
Ajvar is a relish, or sauce, made from roasted capsicums and eggplants. I looked it up to tell you where it originated from, but I got a few different answers to that: Serbia, Macedonia and Croatia. So ummm yeh…it comes from that region. It’s great as a dip, delicious served with red meats and I even made Key some fairly ‘European’ sandwiches with ham, gherkins and slathered with ajvar. He said they reminded him of sandwiches that he used to have as a child. Winning!
With just a few simple ingredients, you end up with a delicious and versatile condiment.
Roasting the eggplant and capsicums in a very hot oven will give them an almost smoky flavour. Traditionally, this would have been done over hot coals. I can only imagine that improves their flavour even more, but roasting them like this is a good ‘at home’ cheat.
Roast for 40 minutes or until the skins have darkened on the capsicum and the vegetables have collapsed.
Once the veggies have roasted, take them out of the oven and immediately cover them. This will make them ‘sweat’ and in turn will help the skins come off very easily.
Remove most of the seeds from the capsicum and any large seeds from the eggplant. You don’t have to be too fussy though, you won’t notice a few stray capsicum seeds once it’s all blended up.
Process up the roasted veg with some raw garlic, lemon and olive oil. Salt to taste and then enjoy! You can find the recipe for these grissini here.
The ajvar will keep covered in the fridge for at least a week (if it lasts that long)
Ajvar – Roasted Capsicum Relish
Ingredients – Makes just over 1 cup
- 1 eggplant, weighing approximately 370g
- 2 red capsicums, weighing approximately 480g total
- 1 large garlic clove, peeled and finely grated
- 1 tbs lemon juice
- 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 220°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Place the whole capsicums and eggplant onto the tray and then roast for 40 minutes or until the skins have darkened on the capsicum and the vegetables have collapsed.
- Remove the vegetables from the oven and immediately place them into a covered bowl to help loosen the skins. Let them sit, covered, for about 20 minutes.
- Once the vegetables have sat for the allocated time, remove the stems and peel the skin from them. Remove most of the seeds from the capsicum and any large seeds from the eggplant. Discard the stems, seeds and skin along with any juices that have collected in the bottom of the bowl.
- Roughly chop the capsicum and eggplant flesh and then place it into a food processor.
- Add the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and a big pinch of salt and then process until a puree forms. Test for seasoning and add more lemon or salt if required.
- The ajvar will keep covered in the fridge for at least a week. Great served room temperature with red meat or used as a dip.