Ajvar ([ǎj.ʋaːr], Serbian Cyrillic: ajвар; Bulgarian: aйвар; Macedonian: aјвар) is a type of relish,
|Open sandwich with home-made ajvar|
Original homemade ajvar is made of roasted peppers, while some industrial producers use cooked peppers, which leads to a lower quality. Depending on the capsaicin content in bell peppers and the amount of added chili peppers, it can be sweet (traditional), piquant (the most common), or very hot.
The ajvar can be consumed as a bread spread or as a side dish.
The name ajvar comes from the Turkish word havyar, which means "salted roe, caviar" and shares an etymology with caviar. Prior to the 20th century, there was a significant local production of caviar on the Danube, with sturgeon swimming from the Black Sea up to Belgrade. Domestic ajvar, meaning caviar, used to be a very popular dish in Belgrade homes and restaurants. However, the domestic production of ajvar/caviar was not steady starting in the 1890s because of labor disputes, and eventually a special pepper salad was, with the sense for irony and an eye for production and serving and optical similarities between the two dishes, offered as a substitute in Belgrade restaurants under the name "red ajvar" or "Serbian ajvar" (crveni ajvar, srpski ajvar).
Original homemade ajvar is made of roasted peppers, while some industrial producers use cooked peppers, which leads to a lower quality of ajvar.
The preparation of ajvar is somewhat difficult, as it involves a great amount of manual labor,
|Commercially made ajvar|
In order to produce ajvar, bell peppers and aubergines (eggplants) are roasted whole on a plate on an open fire, a plate of wood in a stove, or in an oven. The baked peppers must briefly rest in a closed dish, to allow them to cool and to allow the flesh to separate from the skin. Next, the skin is carefully peeled off and the seeds are removed. The peppers are then ground in a mill or chopped in tiny pieces (this variant is often referred to as pindjur). Finally, the mush is stewed for a couple of hours in large pots, with added sunflower oil and garlic, in order to condense and reduce the water, as well as to enhance later conservation. Salt (and sometimes also vinegar) is added at the end and the hot mush is poured directly into glass jars which are immediately sealed.
|Ajvar and other pickles in a home larder|
Ajvar is produced in various countries. The reported annual Serbian production is 640 tons.
Ajvar is one of the so-called "zimnica" (winter foods), which include pickled chili peppers, pickled tomatoes, and anything else that can fit in a jar that gets prepared just before winter.