Ajvar relish is a Serbian roasted red pepper condiment with a vibrant color and flavor. Make this ajvar recipe at home with just 5 simple ingredients!
This sweet and tangy relish might just be the most versatile condiment in your kitchen. It is simple to make with easy-to-find ingredients, and will knock your socks off with its flavor.
The versatility of roasted red pepper relish is often compared to tomato ketchup.
The jury is still out on the exact origin of ajvar. Many countries in the Balkan peninsula region hold claim to the recipe, including Serbia, Croatia, and Macedonia.
One thing is clear; whoever did create the recipe did the world a favor. It's a delicious condiment!
Ingredients for Ajvar Relish
Red Bell Peppers - This is the primary ingredient for the relish. Using anything other than roasted red bell peppers wouldn't be an ajvar recipe.
Try to choose ripe ones to take advantage of the perfect sweetness. Since they are in season in the U.S. toward the end of summer, that’s when you’ll find them at their best.
Eggplant - I like the distinct flavor and heartiness that the eggplant adds to the finished product.
Garlic, Olive Oil, Salt, and Black Pepper - Just some basics for seasoning and flavor, but you’re going to love how the sweet peppers combine with the sharp garlic to create a distinctively delicious sauce.
White Vinegar - This is going to give just the tiniest zing to the flavor of this dish. You could use white wine vinegar for a slightly different taste.
Video: How to Make Roasted Red Pepper Relish
To see the process of making the Ajvar recipe from start to finish, watch the video located in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Grill the vegetables.
The grill is really what makes this dish so special and distinctive. In a pinch, you can roast the veggies in your oven, but you’re going to lose a lot of the smoky goodness that comes from grilling.
Grill the peppers and eggplant with stems intact, but be sure to pierce the skin of the eggplant with a fork in several places before grilling.
It will take 20 to 25 minutes for them to be soft and ready. To be sure they cook evenly, it's best to turn the vegetables over several times while they grill.
- Steam the peppers to loosen the skin.
After removing the peppers from the grill, you’ll place them in a bowl and cover them with a towel until they’re cool. This allows them to steam and soften even further.
You don’t need to steam the eggplant, but it usually needs to grill a bit longer than the red peppers anyway, so the timing usually works perfectly.
- Blend ingredients in food processor.
After you’ve removed the skins, seeds, and stems from all the vegetables you’re going to just add the pepper and eggplant flesh and all of the remaining ingredients to your food processor and blend until smooth.
If you prefer an even thicker consistency for your ajvar relish, pulse just until your desired texture is reached.
Simmering the blended mixture for about 20 minutes allows the flavor of the vinegar to mellow, and allows all of the other flavors to meld to perfection.
If you like a little kick of spicy heat, spice things up by adding a bit of cayenne powder at this point.
*Keep leftovers fresh and ready to go by refrigerating them in an airtight container. They'll keep well for up to a week.
Uses for Ajvar Relish
The list of ways to use the ajvar recipe are practically endless. Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Serve as a condiment for your favorite meat. It's fantastic with almost any roasted, fried, or grilled meat or poultry. It's incredibly delicious on grilled Serbian sausage (cevapi).
- Use as an upgrade to traditional ketchup. Enjoy it on roasted potatoes or in your next burger.
- Enjoy as a sandwich spread with mayo and all the other fixings you enjoy.
- Top your next bowl of cooked pasta, ramen, or even shrimp shumai dumplings with ajvar relish.
Ajvar Relish (Recipe + How-To Video)
- 2 lbs red bell peppers (about 4-5)
- 1 lb eggplant (1 medium sized)
- 4 garlic cloves
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- Heat a grill to medium heat (350-400°F) and lightly oil the grates.
- Using a fork, poke holes into the eggplant skin in several areas and set it on the grill along with the red peppers.
- Grill the eggplant and peppers about 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until the red pepper skins char and puff up and the eggplant softens and wrinkles all over. Remove red peppers and turn off heat. Leave eggplant for another 5 minutes on grill.
- Place peppers in a bowl and cover them with a towel to let them steam. When cooled, peel off the charred skins and remove the seeds and stems. Cut off the stem from the eggplant, slice it lengthwise and scoop out the eggplant flesh. Discard the skin and stem.
- Add the roasted peppers and eggplant to a food processor along with the garlic, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Process it to a smoothe texture.
- Scrape the mixture into a saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes to cook the garlic, mellow the vinegar and to develop flavors. This is a slightly sweet, bright red pepper flavored sauce. If you'd like it spicy, add a ¼ teaspoon of ground cayenne powder at this point. Season with salt.
- Serve with grilled meats, flatbreads, croutons or crackers of choice. Great as a vegetable dip as well.
- This makes about 2 ½ cups. Store in an airtight container, lasts 5-7 days.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.