Ajvar – red pepper and aubergine chutney

Ajvar – red pepper and aubergine chutney


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Ajvar is a recipe that is found all over the Balkans as well as in Friuli Venezia Giulia and shows the Slovenian influence on the cooking of the region. It’s a red pepper and aubergine chutney which is used as an accompaniment to cold meats, sausages and salumi.

The name is said to derive from the Turkish word for caviar, suggesting that it was made as a cheaper substitute for sturgeon roe. However, the name could derive from the fact that the consistency is similar, a little like aubergine caviar. This recipe makes enough to serve four people. However, you could make a much larger quantity and seal it in sterilised jars to keep and serve throughout the winter.

Place the peppers under a very hot grill, turning occasionally until the skin is blackened. Allow to cool a little then peel off the skin and remove the seeds
Meanwhile, preheat an oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Cut the aubergine in half, score the flesh inside, and pour some olive oil over the flesh. Put the aubergine back together, wrap tightly in tin foil, and then place in the oven for about one hour or until soft
Unwrap the aubergine, scoop out the flesh with a spoon and discard the skins. Place the flesh in a food processor with the peppers and garlic, then blitz to a chunky paste
Add the sunflower oil, vinegar and sugar along with a pinch of salt and pepper, then blitz until the mixture is the consistency of pesto. Add a little more oil if it’s too thick
Transfer to a saucepan and simmer gently over a low heat for about 20 minutes. Add a little water occasionally if necessary
Allow to cool a little before serving
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