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  • Writer's pictureTerri Windover

From caviar to peppers. The story of Ajvar.

The name ajvar comes from the Turkish word havyar, which means "salted caviar" Prior to the 20th century, there was a significant local production of caviar on the Danube, with sturgeon swimming from the Black Sea up to Belgrade. This dish became very popular in local restaurants. However, the domestic production of caviar was not steady starting in the 1890s because of labor disputes, and eventually a special pepper salad was offered as a substitute in Belgrade restaurants under the name "red ajvar"

Ajvar and Charred Bread Makes 3 cups Ingredients: * 1 medium heavy eggplant * 3 large red field or mild red roasting peppers * 1 fresh red chili pepper, coarsely chopped with seeds * 2 cloves garlic, crushed * 3 tablespoons red wine or sherry vinegar * About 1/3 cup EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil * Salt * Thinly sliced peasant bread or a baguette cut on bias, toasted Instructions: Preheat oven to 425°F. Poke a few holes in the skin on one side of the eggplant using the tip of a paring knife. Roast to tender, about 30 minutes, then let cool. Peel and place flesh in a food processor. Char peppers evenly over the flame on a gas burner or under a high broiler with the oven door slightly ajar. Place peppers in a bowl and cover until cool. Peel and seed peppers, coarsely chop and place in food processor with the eggplant. Add chopped chili pepper, garlic, vinegar and EVOO then purée. Adjust salt to taste. Serve ajvar with charred bread.  

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