Ajvar (pronounced iVar)
Ajvar is a red pepper and aubergine relish that originates from Balkans. I still remember the strong smell of roasted peppers, coming out of many households at the same time, making it even more intense. It looked to me as though all the neighbours agreed to make Ajvar at the same time. That was the smell of August, the season of sweet pointed red peppers. Ajvar can be used as a companion to cheese, meat or even on its own, just smeared on a slice of bread.
5kg red peppers (ideally pointed, if not, bell peppers are also okay)
5 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon sugar
2 shots vinegar (white)
1 cup sunflower oil
Roast the peppers on the grill or in oven. If using the oven, spread the peppers on baking paper in baking tray, with no oil. Do not put them on the top of each other. Roast them for around 30 minutes on 250 degrees, turning them around from time to time. You will know they're ready when you notice charcoaled skin.
In the meantime, cut the aubergine in half and put a little bit of salt. This will make the aubergine sweat and release its bitterness. Just wipe them before putting in the oven. Roast them the same way as the peppers. Once roasted, I usually put them in a bowl and cover with a cloth until they cool down.
The next step is peeling the peppers and the aubergine, and removing as many seeds as possible.
After that, the best way to process the roasted veggies is using a (meat) mincer. If you don't have one, chopping them finely will do. Avoid using blender, as this will change the consistency. You really want to preserve the peppers’ bite.
Put everything in big pot and add oil, garlic, sugar, vinegar and salt to taste. Cook on low heat for around 2.5 hours, stirring occasionally.
Sterilise the jars with boiled water and fill them with hot Ajvar. Make sure your lids are sealed well. Fill a big pot with water, place a cloth at the bottom and put the jars in. Cook the jars for 20 minutes on low heat. When finished store the jars in a dark and cool place.