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Ajvar

4 from 3 votes

Ajvar is a smoky and garlicky sauce loaded with sweet peppers and cream aubergine that's perfect for dipping just about anything in to

Written By Brad Archer

Updated:

You may not be aware of sauces that come from the Balkan countries. If you’re going to try one, then you need to make sure it’s ajvar. It’s a smoky, garlicky, red pepper relish that is delicious as a dip or incredible spread over fresh bread.

Close up of ajvar sauce from Serbia

My recipe for ajvar is not the easiest or quickest method (more on that below) but it will give you the most delicious roasted flavour. The key flavour you need to achieve it smokiness.

What’s In Ajvar?

There are a few key ingredients you’ll need to make a delicious pot of ajvar alongside some salt and pepper:

  • 5 Red Bell Peppers: Stick to red peppers to ensure your ajvar is bright red. Peppers will provide the main sweetness in the sauce, too.
  • 1 Aubergine: Aubergine gives the sauce a creamier texture and a bit more body.
  • 6 Garlic Cloves: You want to be able to taste the garlic so don’t hold back!
  • 60 ml Olive Oil: Olive oil will help to loosen the paste to a sauce consistency. You can adjust the quantity for the thickness of the sauce you’re after. You could also use sunflower oil.
  • 1 tbsp White Wine or Red Wine Vinegar: A touch of vinegar balances the smokiness.

How to Make Ajvar

Step 1: You need to blacken the skin of the peppers and aubergine. You can either use a blowtorch, a grill or a gas hob. You need to char it until the outside turns black and the inside is soft. Ultimately, you need to use an open flame to get that smoky, charred flavour.

It will take around 10-15 minutes for each pepper and 25 minutes for the aubergine. Using a grill can be much quicker.

Charring pepper with a blow torth

Step 2: Once blackened, place peppers and aubergine into a large bowl and then cover this with cling film. Let them cool for around 20 minutes. Not only will this make it much easier to handle them but the steam in the bowl will make it much easier to peel them.

Steaming charred vegetables in a bowl covered in cling film

Step 3: Once cooled, scrape the charred skin from the outside (this will taste acrid if you keep it on). You then need to scoop the seeds and core out from the peppers. Cut the aubergine in half and scoop the flesh into a bowl.

Removing skin and core from charred peppers

Step 4: Pop the peppers, aubergine and garlic into a food processor or blender and whizz it up until you have a thick, rough paste. You’re going to blitz it further so it

Placing peppers into a blender bowl

Step 5: Add the olive oil and vinegar with a pinch of salt and black pepper and then continue to blitz until you have the consistency you’re after. You may need to add more oil if you want a thinner sauce.

Drizzling oil into the top of a blender

Step 6: Tip the mixture into a large saucepan over high heat then bring it to a gentle bubble before turning it down to low heat and simmering it for 20-25 minutes. You’ll want to keep stirring it to prevent it from catching on the bottom.

Heating ajvar sauce

Step 7: Remove it from the heat then allow it to cool slightly before serving it as a dip or spread over fresh bread.

Close up bowl of ajvar with two hands, one dipping in a breadstick or grissini

Substitutes and Tweaks

Swap out the peppers and aubergine for jarred roasted peppers and aubergine to save you some time.

If you like heat then add a pinch of chilli powder, hot paprika or roast a whole red chilli.

Add a little freshness to your ajvar by stirring through some fresh herbs such as coriander, parsley or mint.

To turn this into a super cream sauce, add a spoonful of cream cheese and stir this through the sauce at the end.

How to Store Ajvar

Ajvar is quite punchy! You’ll find a little of it goes a long way so will probably have some leftover. Here are the best ways to keep it:

How Do You Store Ajvar in the Fridge?

After cooling, transfer the ajvar to a clean, airtight container and refrigerate. This helps maintain its freshness and flavour. Always use a clean spoon for serving to prolong its shelf life.

How Long Does Ajvar Last in the Fridge?

Homemade ajvar typically lasts up to 5-7 days in the fridge when stored properly in an airtight container. Check for any signs of spoilage, like mould or off-odours, before using.

How Do You Freeze Ajvar?

To freeze homemade ajvar, place it in a freezer-safe container or a zip-lock freezer bag, leaving some space for expansion. Seal tightly to prevent freezer burn. This method preserves its quality for several months.

How Do You Defrost Ajvar?

To freeze homemade ajvar, place it in a freezer-safe container or a zip-lock freezer bag, leaving some space for expansion. Seal tightly to prevent freezer burn. This method preserves its quality for several months.

Ajvar

Ajvar

4 from 3 votes
Course: SidesCuisine: SerbianDifficulty: Medium
Servings

12

servings
Prep time

40

minutes
Cooking time

1

hour 

30

minutes
Total time

2

hours 

10

minutes

Ajvar is a smoky and garlicky sauce loaded with sweet peppers and cream aubergine that’s perfect for dipping just about anything in to.

Ingredients

  • 5 5 Red Bell Peppers

  • 1 1 Aubergine

  • 6 6 Garlic Cloves

  • 60 ml 60 Olive Oil

  • 1 tbsp 1 White Wine or Red Wine Vinegar, Optional

  • Salt

  • Black Pepper

Directions

  • Roast peppers and aubergine using a blow torch, grill, or gas hob. Blacken peppers for about 10 minutes and aubergine for about 25 minutes until fully charred.
  • Place the blackened peppers and aubergine in a bowl and cover with cling film. Let them cool for 20 minutes to ease handling and peeling.
  • Peel off the charred skin from both vegetables. Remove seeds and core from peppers. Halve the aubergine and scoop out the flesh, discarding the skin.
  • Blend the roasted peppers, aubergine flesh, and garlic cloves in a food processor until it forms a rough paste.
  • Add olive oil, optional vinegar, salt, and pepper to the paste. Process until smooth.
  • Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and heat until it bubbles. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, adjust seasoning to taste, and enjoy.

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