This red pepper, chilli and eggplant relish, also referred to as Ajvar, is a real labour of love. The preparation is somewhat difficult, as it involves a great amount of manual labour, especially related to peeling the roasted vegetables. This relish is made by roasting or burning the vegetable skin which gives this sweet and tangy relish a pleasing smokiness. Ajvar originates in the Serbian cuisine, and was therefore long known as “Serbian salad” or “Serbian vegetable caviar”. It became a popular side dish throughout Yugoslavia after World War II and is nowadays popular in the Balkans.
Depending on the capsaicin content in bell peppers and the amount of added chilli peppers, it can be sweet (traditional), piquant (the most common), or very hot. This relish recipe is on the hot side, beware. The Ajvar can be consumed as a bread spread or as a side dish.