Homemade Ajvar Recipe: A Taste Of The Balkans

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Ajvar (pronounced eye-var), a vibrant red spread bursting with roasted red pepper flavor, is a staple condiment in the Balkans. This simple yet addictive relish is perfect for adding a smoky, spicy kick to any dish. Whether you slather it on grilled meats, stir it into soups, or use it as a veggie dip, ajvar’s versatility knows no bounds.

This recipe takes you through the traditional way of making ajvar, using fire-roasted red peppers for the most intense flavor. But don’t worry, if you don’t have access to an open fire, you can easily roast them in your oven.

Original Ajvar Rezept - Paprikapaste einfach selber machen
Original Ajvar Rezept – Paprikapaste einfach selber machen

Ingredients:

3 lbs red bell peppers (about 6-7 large peppers)

  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (sweet or hot, depending on your preference)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • Red pepper flakes (optional, for extra spice)

  • Instructions:

    1. Roast the Peppers: This is where the magic happens! If using an open fire, roast the peppers directly over the flames, turning them frequently, until charred and blistered on all sides. Alternatively, preheat your oven to broil (high heat) and roast the peppers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, turning occasionally, until softened and blackened. Once roasted, place the peppers in a sealed plastic bag and let them steam for 15 minutes. This helps loosen the skins.

    2. Peel and Prep: Peel the roasted peppers, removing the charred skin, stems, and seeds. You can use a paper towel to rub off any stubborn bits of skin.

    3. Puree the Peppers: In a food processor, puree the peeled peppers with the garlic cloves until smooth.

    4. Simmer and Season: In a saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil, vinegar, paprika, sugar, and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens slightly.

    5. Adjust Consistency: Depending on your preference, you can adjust the consistency of the ajvar. For a smoother spread, puree it further with an immersion blender. If you prefer a chunkier texture, simply leave it as is.

    6. Spice it Up (Optional): If you crave a little more heat, add a pinch of red pepper flakes to taste.

    7. Cool and Store: Let the ajvar cool completely, then transfer it to sterilized jars. Seal the jars tightly and store them in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

    Nutrition Facts (per serving, approximately 2 tablespoons):

    Calories: 30

  • Fat: 1.5g
  • Carbohydrates: 5g
  • Sugar: 4g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Sodium: 150mg

  • Remember, these are estimates and may vary depending on the specific ingredients you use.

    Conclusion

    Ajvar is more than just a condiment; it’s a flavor explosion waiting to happen. With its smoky sweetness and fiery kick, it elevates any dish it touches. So next time you’re looking for a way to add a touch of the Balkans to your meal, give ajvar a try. You won’t be disappointed!

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. Can I use different colored peppers?

    Absolutely! While red bell peppers are traditional, you can experiment with yellow, orange, or even green peppers for a slightly different flavor profile. Just keep in mind that the sweetness level may vary.

    2. How spicy is ajvar?

    The spice level depends on the type of paprika you use and whether you add extra red pepper flakes. Sweet paprika creates a milder ajvar, while hot paprika packs a punch. Adjust the amount to your taste preference.

    3. What can I use ajvar for besides a spread?

    Ajvar’s uses are endless! Try it as a pizza topping, stir it into pasta sauce, or use it as a marinade for grilled chicken or fish. You can even add a dollop to soups and stews for a smoky depth of flavor.

    4. My ajvar is too watery. How can I thicken it?

    If your ajvar seems a bit runny, simply simmer it for a longer time to allow excess moisture to evaporate.

    5. Can I can ajvar for longer storage?