Ajvar is a traditional food here in Bosnia, even though it is known throughout the region. It's a chutney made out of red piquillo peppers (those intensely red and sweet Spanish peppers) and eggplant, both of which are roasted. This is usually used as a spread on bread, or alongside meat like chicken or steak. I love it, and it's not that hard to make you just have to follow the steps and have some free time on your hands (this is perfect for weekends, and makes a lot). Now peppers are in season here, and we can get them by the caseload. Once you make this, there will be no going back. Ajvar keeps well in the fridge for a couple of weeks, and this is a completely organic version that doesn't use any preservatives.

Bosnian Ajvar Recipe

(read recipe to get measurements)
- Red Piquillo Peppers (called "Roga" here in Bosnia)
- Eggplants
- Garlic, minced
- Olive Oil
- Salt
- Pepper
- Chili powder (optional)

1. Roast the cleaned and dried peppers and eggplants in the oven, no oil needed, under moderate high heat (I roast them 220C/425F), for 35-40 minutes (or until fork tender), or until they are soft. Once the peppers are cooled a bit, peel their skin and remove stems and seeds and put the meat of the peppers into a bowl. Remove the flesh from the roasted eggplants as well.

2. Now you need to mince/blitz the flesh from the peppers and eggplant. I use the meat mincer attachment on my free standing mixer, but you can also use a food processor.

3. In a thick bottom saucepan (the size will depend on the amount you are making) heat a bit of olive oil, place the minced peppers and eggplant and stir. Add the minced garlic, salt and pepper (optionally you can add the chili powder) and the remainder of olive oil. Don't be alarmed if the oil doesn't incorporate immediately, just keep stirring gently and it will fold in.

4. Cook it in the saucepan until it comes to a boil, then for a good three hours (even four if you have the time) on low heat, stirring frequently. Of course the cooking time will depend on the amount you are making. It needs to cook down by a third.

5. Place it glass jars and keep in in the fridge. I put the glass jars through the dishwasher first before using them. Once you fill the Ajvar in the jars you can top them off with a small layer of olive oil so it will keep longer. Use up within a month.

For comparison, I used 20 peppers and 5 eggplants, 2 cups of olive oil (this is minimum, most people use more on this amount, but it will be eaten quickly in out household, so it doesn't need to hold long), 2 minced cloves of garlic, salt and pepper to taste and not chili powder. I cooked the Ajvar for 3 hours on low heat. This is really a recipe where you go by eye and vary the ingredients to your taste.

I hope you will enjoy this traditional Bosnian recipe, we make it a lot here during late summer, early autumn. Even though you can get it in stores here, the taste of homemade Ajvar can't be beaten!


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