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Ajvar (North Macedonia)


Ajvar is the traditional spicy red pepper and eggplant spread of the Balkans.  I mentioned it in connection with Lake Ohrid in North Macedonia, but it's popular in Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, and Albania as well.

It's absolutely delightful as a condiment and works in so many ways.  This version is an "Americanized" option, since finding fresh ripe red paprika peppers can be challenging.  So we'll substitute a blend of red bell peppers and red Anaheims or jalapeños peppers.

Makes three cups


  • 3 red bell peppers

  • 3 Holland, Fresno, or red jalapeño chiles

  • 1 Japanese eggplant or small regular eggplant (about 12 ounces)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

  • Kosher salt


  1. Over a gas flame or in a broiler or even on a grill, roast the peppers, chiles, and eggplant, turning frequently, until charred all over, 20-25 minutes.

  2. Transfer vegetables to a bowl and cover tightly with several layers of plastic wrap to let steam; let cool completely.  The steam will loosen the skins.

  3. Peel and seed peppers and chiles. Using a spoon, scoop out any large pockets of stringy seeds from center of eggplant.

  4. Heat oil in a medium skillet over low heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is very soft and golden brown around edges, 25-30 minutes. Let cool in skillet.

  5. Finely chop onion, garlic, and vegetables and combine in a medium bowl, or if you prefer, pulse in a food processor until finely chopped.

  6. Stir in juice and season with salt.

  7. Eat with bread, crackers, veggies, or put on burgers or other meats


Recipe adapted from

Photo by Wikipedia user off-shell

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