This post is by: Kay (my lovely wife and writer for K’s Kitchen!)

homemade ajvar

It's great as an appetizer and for dipping!

Since the end of August, I started to see lots of sacks of paprika at vegetable shops in Kosovo….Yes, this is a sign that autumn is here and therefore the season for Ajvar has started….Indeed, leaves are turning yellow and it was zero degree at night in Prishtina few days ago (early October)!!

Today, I’m FINALLY introducing you to one of the most popular Balkan dishes (sauce), Ajvar. I never knew about this very popular Balkan dish until I moved to Kosovo. Ajvar is basically a sauce made of red paprika and spices. According to the website and some recipes that I have seen, eggplants and onions are sometimes used, however, my Kosovar friends tell me that Ajvar is strictly with paprikas and the one mixed with other vegetables are actually called Pinxhur. Both of them are often used as a dip or part of the appetizer (Meze) with bread. You can also use it as a sauce for meat, or even as a pasta sauce. Here is the link for the history of Ajvar, for those interested.

Ingredients (makes 1.5 litters)

ajvar ingredients

Fresh and delicious. Ok the chillies might not be traditional but we love the spice.

Red paprika:10

Eggplant: 4

Onions: 1 finely chopped

Garlic: 3 cloves finely chopped

Chili: 3-5 (depending on your preference)

Olive oil: Half cup

Vinegar or lemon: 1 Tablespoon

Salt: to taste

Pepper: to taste

How to cook (cooking/preparation time: 60 minutes)

take the skin off of paprika

Skinning the peppers

(1)  Roast red paprika and eggplants in the oven at 240 C° for 25-30 min or until they are roasted. You may want to cut the eggplants into haves if they are big. Turn the vegetables around half way through to roast them evenly. Roast chilies as well, but please don’t put in the oven too long! Mine exploded in the oven!

(2)  While roasting, sauté the onions and garlic with 1-2 table spoons of olive oil very well until they are brown and very soft.

(3)  When paprika and eggplants are done, put them in a pot and leave them for 5-10 min. Peel their skins and take out the seeds of paprika, cut them in pieces, and mash them with a masher.

(4)  Put the mashed vegetables, chopped chilies, and sauteed onion & garlic, as well as olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, into a blender and blend them until the chunks disappear.

(5)  Adjust the taste by adding more salt and peppers. In my case, I have added more chopped spicy Sri Lankan chilies (-:

(6)  Serve Ajvar on the plate together with other dips or meze along with some bread (ideally Arabic or pita bread). Today, I decided to serve with some olives from Macedonia (thanks to Todd’s recent trip to Lake Ohrid).

That’s a lot of Peppers!

As I wanted to make it properly, I bought a sack of paprika and used 10 which produced almost 1.5 litters of Pinxhur Ajvar! If you would like to try first, you can probably cook a half portion. If you sterilize the bottle, they say that Ajvar lasts for couple of years. This is the way how people in the Balkans used to prepare (and still prepare) the preserved food to be ready for winter. Kosovar Moms also like to point out how healthy this is, especially since one red paprika is said to have more vitamin C than a lemon.

Was that easy? Delicious? Tell us how tasty it was, or how it all went horribly, horribly wrong :)

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11 Responses to “How to Make Ajvar: Balkan staple of Fall and Winter”

  1. arninaNo Gravatar says:

    im engaged to a kosovar from kosovo but am from belgiuma nd i want to surprise him with his tradional kosovian food and i dont know nothing about their tradional food and how to prepare it pls help me

  2. Sarah WuNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks for the recipe. The photo looks so yummy.

  3. thanks for the recipe, am going to try it our

  4. Just had ajvar yesterday :) It’s normal here in Slovenia as well :)

    Ps: Come to visit us, too.
    My Kafkaesque life´s recent [type] ..Slovenian reactions to Peter Bossmans election

  5. DawnNo Gravatar says:

    Just so glad to know that I am not the only person who has things explode in their oven!

    My knowledge of paprika extends to knowing it is that dried red powder you find in shaker jars. I feel a bit like a kid that says milk comes from bottles! I really didn’t know that it was a vegetable.

    Could you make the ajvar using the dried powder – I know it wouldn’t be authentic but would it be a little like the real thing – or not worth bothering?

    • Todd WasselNo Gravatar says:

      hey Dawn, thanks for stopping by. Paprika is really just the same as bell peppers that we have in the US, although there area many more shapes and sizes over here. If you buy red peppers that you should be fine. The dried powder will not help at all since this a dip and you need the water in full, plump, peppers to make up the base.

      Hope this helps and I hope you let us know how it turns out.
      Todd Wassel´s recent [type] ..The Happiness Chart psst It’s really simple

  6. Woo! Fell in love with Ajvar years ago, in Belgrade and Pristina. Carried a jar in my backpack and lived on the stuff, spread on fresh bread with a little cheese on top. Never been 100% happy with the recipe I’ve been using seen then, can’t wait to give this one a whirl – I think the sauteed onions and garlic are going to make all the difference!

    Thanks guys!
    Camden Luxford´s recent [type] ..Found! World’s best hangover cure – the Vía Ferrata in the Sacred Valley

  7. thanks for the recipe

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