Serbian Roasted Eggplant Pepper Spread (Ajvar) Recipe

ajvar-new.jpg
Ajvar. © Nikola Nastasic / Getty Images
    60 mins
Ratings (10)

is a Serbian roasted eggplant-sweet pepper mixture, sometimes referred to as vegetarian caviar.

It can be mashed or left chunky, depending on personal taste, and served as a relish, vegetable or spread on country-style white bread like pogacha as an appetizer. Its smoky flavor is a great match for grilled or roasted meats, especially lamb.

Ajvar is also typically served with cevaps sausage, also known as cevapcici, and a bread known as lepinje. Russians call this eggplant caviar or ikra which means caviar and is the same word for fish roe. For more on real fish-egg caviar read this.

You can vary this recipe by adding chopped hot red chiles and onion, and substituting red wine or red-wine vinegar for the lemon juice. Bulgarian kiopoolu is similar but it uses green peppers instead of red peppers and tomatoes are added.

What You'll Need

  • 2 large eggplants, about 3 pounds
  • 6 large red bell peppers
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup good-quality olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley (optional)

How to Make It

  1. Heat oven to 475 F. Place washed eggplants and peppers on a baking sheet with a lip to catch any juices, and roast until their skins blister and turn black, about 30 minutes.
  2. Place roasted vegetables in a heatproof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let them steam for 10 minutes.
  3. Peel off and discard blackened skins, stems and seeds.
  4. In a large bowl, mash or chop vegetables, depending on how smooth or chunky you like your ajvar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add garlic and lemon juice, and drizzle in oil, stirring constantly.
  1. To serve, transfer to a glass dish and sprinkle with chopped parsley for garnish, if desired. Store covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week.

More Serbian Appetizer Recipes

  • Spinach Pie RecipeZeljanica, as this is known, makes a great appetizer, snack, brunch, side dish, or main course, especially for vegetarians. Because the recipe contains dairy and eggs, it isn't suitable for vegans. 
  • Meat Burek RecipeThis meat pie recipe can be made with ground beef, pork or lamb or a combination. The mixture is encased in phyllo dough and baked. It's a popular street food and hangover remedy especially when eaten with a cold glass of kefir.
  • Quick Kajmak RecipeTraditional kajmak is made with unpasteurized cow's milk that is heated and skimmed over many hours. This quick version is made with feta and cream cheeses and sour cream.