Ajvar relish

FOTO: Off-shell [CC-BY-SA-4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Ayvar, or aivar (orig: ajvar) is an unavoidable part of winter stock, boiled or fried, mild or hot, according to taste. It is prepared in many ways, but all methods of preparation have a common denominator: it is not easy and takes a long time. For those who intend to prepare it for the first time we made this traditional recipe step by step

Directions - step by step

Roasting peppers
  • Wash peppers and eggplants thoroughly and leave to dry (or wipe them with a clean cloth).
  • In a baking pan (we recommend non-stick pan because peppers can easily stick to the bottom and be very difficult to wash later) put baking paper so that it covers bottom and sides. If you do not have baking paper, you can use a thicker aluminum foil.
  • Grease each pepper individually with oil. You can use a brush or simply dip it in oil turning to be oiled evenly. This will make it much easier to peel later.
  • PPlace peppers on a baking pan and bake in the oven at 200-220°C (392-428°F). If you have fan-forced oven (hot air) use it, peppers will be baked more evenly. Bake until the peppers skin are wrinkled and starts to peel off. If the skins on some peppers turn black that will not be a problem, anyway, you will peel them and throw the skin. Tip: bake peppers of roughly the same size together, otherwise some can be under-baked.
  • When the peppers are roasted remove them from the oven, transfer to a bowl that you can cover, any pot with a lid will be good. Set aside and let the peppers steam at least 15 minutes or more, until the peppers are cool enough to handle.
Removing peels and seeds

Put pepper on a shallow plate (leaving others covered) and peel of the skin. Peeling peppers is the worst part of preparing ayvar. There is no universally applicable recipe for making that easier, some pepper types peel easily, in a few strokes, and some will peel a little harder. It is easier to remove skin if you start from the top to the pedicle, skin at the stem is usually less roasted. When you remove the skin, cut the peppers lengthwise, remove the stem, and, with knife, fork or spoon scrap the seeds. Set aside peppers without skin and seeds in a bowl along with any juices that have remained. Discard peeled skin, stem and seeds from plate. Again and again, until you finish with all of the peppers.

At the beginning, it might seem that peeling is a mission impossible, but after a few pieces it will become routine. This part of the preparation is quite lengthy and boring, so use the help of other members of your household.

Roasting and peeling eggplans

Bake eggplants in the same way as the peppers, but the cleaning is a little different: after you peel eggplant, split it lengthwise in half (if large can be quartered). Scrape the seeds with the spoon. In eggplant seeds reside longitudinally in a few stripes.

Baking (again)

Grind cleaned peppers, eggpants and fresh garlic cloves in a meat grinder (use plate with medium-sized holes). Place mush in a deep baking pan (now without baking paper or foil) and bake in oven at about 200°C (392°F) while the amount decreases by 1/3. Stir occasionally.

  • Transfer mush in a bigger pot and cook on low temperature.
  • Add salt, sugar and 0.2 liter of oil. Add whole chili peppers, so you can remove it when it seems ayvar is hot enough to your taste. Keep in mind: during cooking ayvar will reduce his mass and extent of the flavors will concentrate. Add smaller amount of hot pepper and salt at the beginning, and taste occasionally. You can easily add more later if necessary.
  • Stir constantly and repeatedly add the remaining oil to be evenly absorbed into the mush. When you see the ayvar is thick enough, add the vinegar and cook for another 5 minutes while stirring to evaporate the smell of vinegar.

When cooked, pour still hot ayvar into sterilized glass jars and seal tightly.

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