How is ajvar made? What IS ajvar, in fact? A spread, a side dish, a dip, a spice… or all of the fore mentioned rolled into one? Many would say ajvar is a salad made of peppers. And they wouldn’t be wrong. For, indeed, that’s what ajvar is. A product made from peppers, with just a dash of oil, salt and vinegar.
What’s so special about it, then? What is the big secret, if anyone can take these four ingredients and whip up ajvar?
And that is absolutely true. Anyone can make ajvar, but a premium ajvar needs something more.
How Brka discovered the secrets of ajvar
Looking to discover the secret of premium ajvar, Lepi Brka – Gastronomad, journeyed to the home of the best peppers for ajvar, where for decades, premium ajvar is made following a traditional recipe.
Nenad Gladic aka Lepi Brka, owes his other nickname, Gastronomad, to the fact that his desire to get to know the tastes form around the world has often led him to move from one place to another. He’s seen many sights, met many a world’s kitchen, experienced their similarities and interconnectedness, but has never encountered anything even remotely like ajvar.
For this authentic taste, he needed to return home. More specifically, to the Kopaonik area and it’s lush surroundings, where the best pepper for ajvar, Kurtovska kapija, is grown on hectares upon hectares of fertile soil. He’s met the people who grow this sort of pepper, and found out that in this part of Serbia this is often a family business, or more precise a family tradition that all generations take pride in. Thus, it’s not too surprising that the foothills of Kopaonik yield the best peppers, that make ajvar so irresistible.
During his ajvar adventure, Lepi Brka has had an opportunity to meet Mrs Zorica, an acclaimed ajvar-making expert of the area, and to spend time with her, learning how premium ajvar is made, and the secret ingredients of this delicacy.
Naturally, he discovered that the most important ingredient are those carefully selected peppers, that keeping a steady flame during roasting peppers and cooking ajvar is very important, as well as that the way cooked ajvar is packed mustn’t be neglected, either.
As for the secret to premium ajvar, that’s not something written in ajvar-making manuals or found on Youtube. The secret lies, above all, in the great love for this unique product, in honoring tradition and heritage, as well as in commitment and great effort that is invested in making it.
Is it worthwhile? Well, the answer lies in each mouthful of ajvar you can eat with almost anything, on any day, and regardless of the season.
Take a look at Lepi Brka’s ajvar adventure.