5 Ways to Make Homemade Ajvar

by mmitic86

There is one basic ajvar recipe, but as everyone who makes their own ajvar knows too well, the variations, and little secrets surrounding the process are countless. What separates the average from the best are high quality natural ingredients, good grasp of preparation process and vast experience in getting just the right taste and texture by slow cooking at low temperature. That is precisely why these recipes are closely kept secrets passed down from generation to generation as a part of family inheritance.
Here we bring you the original homemade ajvar recipe, along with its few variations you can try your hand at.

1. Basic recipe for original homemade ajvar

This is one of the traditional recipes for original homemade ajvar, just like our grandmas used to make. The ingredients here are for 1kg of ajvar, you can adjust it depending on how many jars of ajvar you want to make.
4kg quality ripe sweet red peppers, preferably Kurtovska kapija
2dl sunflower oil
1-2 tablespoons of wine vinegar
salt to taste
Wash and dry peppers, then grill on low heat until black and completely softened around the stem. Place roasted peppers in a covered bowl and keep in a warm place so they would peel more easily. For a spicy version roast some hot peppers to taste.

There are different methods to peel peppers more easily. One is to soak them in cold water with added ice cubes. This makes the skin come off quickly, but it also soaks the peppers, so it will take you longer to drain them afterwards. Another method is to leave them covered in a warm place for a while, so the steam will soften the skin and help it come off. Once peeled, remove the stems and the seeds from the peppers.

Whichever peeling method you choose, allow the peppers to drain thoroughly afterwards. They are best wrapped in gauze and hung overnight to make sure the excess fluids are drained properly.

Finely chop or grind peeled drained peppers and place them in a wide, shallow, previously oiled cooking pot. Pour the rest of the oil over the peppers, and let it soak in for 20 minutes.

Turn on the stove, and bring peppers to the boil. Then lower the temperature until you bring it to a light simmer. Keep stirring to avoid burning. Depending on the quantity you’re making, this step can take 3 or more hours, and ajvar is ready when all excess liquid evaporates, and the mass becomes thick and even.

Just before it’s done, add vinegar and salt to taste.

Pour ajvar in previously sterilized glass jars, and place them in an oven preheated at 200C, for 10 minutes. Then pour a little oil in each jar to seal ajvar from any air contact. Put the lids on tightly and turn the jars upside down, leaving them to cool slowly. Ideally, wrap them in a blanket for the next 36 to 48h. Once cooled, store them in a dark, cold place, for example a pantry, where they can keep for around 6 months. Once opened, keep the jars in the fridge, and use within a week.

2. Ajvar with aubergine 

   For 1kg you will need:
2kg quality ripe sweet red peppers, preferably Kurtovska kapija
1,5 medium sized aubergine
2dl sunflower oil
1-2 tablespoons of wine vinegar
salt to taste

The process is identical to the basic recipe. Before roasting, use a fork to prick holes all over the eggplant skin. When it’s roasted, peel the skin and remove the seeds. From that point, the preparation process is the same as with peppers. Depending on how much oil your aubergine soaks up, it is possible you will require more than stated in the recipe. So feel free to add some extra oil during cooking if needed.

3. Green ajvar or Malidzano 

This variety of ajvar with aubergine made from roasted green peppers and additional spices.
   For 1kg you will need:
2kg quality ripe sweet green peppers
1,5 medium sized aubergine
2dl sunflower oil
1-2 tablespoons of wine vinegar
1-2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
garlic to taste
salt to taste
1 tsk sugar

The preparation process is identical to the ajvar with aubergine recipe. Garlic is added to the aubergine during mincing, all other spices: mustard, salt, sugar and vinegar should be added 10 minutes before the cooking is done.

4. Ajvar with tomato- Pindjur

Ajvar with tomato is one of those ajvar based gourmet foods. Here is just one of the many recipes.
   Amounts for 1-2kg:
2 kg quality ripe sweet red peppers, preferably Kurtovska kapija
1 kg tomatoes
garlic to taste
1.5 dl sunflower oil
1-2 tablespoons of wine vinegar
salt to taste
Similarly to the basic ajvar recipe, peppers should be grilled, peeled, stems and seeds removed, and thoroughly drained. Once drained, grind or mince them finely.
Blanche the tomatoes, peel and grind or mince them depending on your texture preference. Finely chop or grind garlic.
Heat the oil in a wide shallow pot, add peppers and fry for 10 minutes. Add garlic next, then gradually stir in tomatoes. Let simmer on low heat, and keep stirring to avoid burning. 10 minutes before it’s done, add salt and vinegar. Ajvar with tomato is done when the texture turns thick and smooth.
Pour into jars and prepare them for storage the same way as with original ajvar.

5. Ajvar with tomato and chili- Ljutenica

This is one finely spiced version of the previous ajvar variation. If you like spicy tastes, this will be a real rhapsody of flavor for you.

Ingredients for 1-2kg:
2 kg of red bell pepper
1 kg tomato
garlic to taste
2 tablespoons of dried chili peppers
3-5 stalks of parsley
1.5 dl oil
1-2 tablespoons of vinegar
1 teaspoon of sugar
The process of making ajvar with tomato and chili is identical to the previous one, except in the third step, along with the white onion, add chili. In the final step, along with the vinegar, add whole parsley stems.

In case you find all this too complicated, or you simply can’t find the time, but you still want premium quality ajvar from a tried and tested recipe, we heartily recommend you try Granny’s Secret ajvar, ajvar with tomatoes and ajvar with tomatoes and chilies. Granny’s Secret ajvars are made from the best Kurtovska kapija peppers grown organically from seeds that are carefully selected from year to year, to ensure the quality of the produce. The peppers are grown in the Kopaonik area, whose pristine nature and microclimate are guaranteed to yield the most gorgeous red fruits. Granny’s Secret ajvar is made using a hundred year old traditional recipe, and one of the secrets of its irresistible taste is that each 250g jar in fact contains a whole kilogram of ripe, juicy, sweet, top quality peppers. Have you tried it yet?

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