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Dusk in Bosnia and a Dollop of Ajvar

It was late afternoon in Mostar, Bosnia as we dashed laughing through a sudden rain storm that turned streets into rivers and our merry band into drowned rats. Gasping and dripping we arrived back at our van, shook ourselves like a pack of dogs and clambered in.

I didn’t want to leave.

Mostar is a city of rich culture, rebuilding itself emotionally and physically after the devastating trauma and upheaval of the Bosnian conflict in the 1990’s. Some buildings are too battered and gutted to do more than simply exist. Others are being transformed from places of rubble and devastation to ones of beauty and significance. I suppose the same could be said of the people.

I do not claim to understand this beautiful country, but I am grateful to have experienced it. I can’t stop reading about its history, geography, ethnography, even agriculture. I am in awe of people who go through such heartache, loss, and indescribable grief, and wake up each day doing something to make their life beautiful again.

The storm passed quickly and the sun came out as we drove up into the hills above Mostar. We looked back in amazement at the watery fields now glistening in the setting sun.

We drove in silence for a while, no small feat with 5 chatty girls in the car, processing what we had seen, learned, and felt during our time in Bosnia. I felt grief, hope, peace, and deep gratitude.

We crested the hill on our way to Croatia and my heart swelled at the sight.

It was a perfect farewell.

Today I’ll share with you a recipe for one of my favorite Bosnian dishes: ajvar. Varieties are also found in Germany, Russia, and Croatia, and they’re all fabulous. A blended condiment of roasted eggplant, red bell peppers, onion, garlic and olive oil, ajvar is a rich, savory sauce that goes beautifully with so many things. I love it as a dip for Bosnian Cevapi, or spread thickly on dark rye bread topped with bacon or salami.

Bosnian Ajvar

Ingredients:

2 large eggplants, washed and dried
6 large red bell peppers, washed and dried
1 sweet onion, skin on, brushed with olive oil
2-3 garlic clove, peeled and minced
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 475 degrees F.
  2. Place eggplant, onion and peppers on baking sheet and roast until their skins blacken and blister, about 30 minutes.
  3. Put roasted vegetables in a heatproof bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow them to steam for 10 minutes. This will loosen and moisten burnt skins.
  4. Peel off and discard blackened stems, skins and seeds.
  5. Place vegetables in large bowl or food processor depending on the consistency you want. Mash in bowl if you want it chunky, puree in processor if you like it smooth.
  6. Add garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir until well mixed.
  7. Store covered and refrigerated. Can be canned to last longer.
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Bosnian Mountains and Balkan Cevapi » Rambling Tart - […] they are served on bread with ajvar (a roasted pepper spread), diced onions, diced bell peppers, tomatoes, and sour cream. I skip the […]

Roasting Peppers and A Farm Breakfast » Rambling Tart - […] on my list is a box full of red and green peppers. I roasted them until their skins blackened and bubbled and now they’re cooling and will soon […]

Krista - I don’t mind at all, @facebook-1195602909:disqus 🙂 I’m so glad you like it!! Sorry it took so long to respond – I didn’t see your message until today. 🙂

Krista - Thank you, @3afa59f200b9bf7b1731f99c37f453f3:disqus 🙂 I love them too. 🙂

Krista - I sure have, @fcc75a92bfe2a6215f904edac4de61b4:disqus 🙂 And absolutely loved it. 🙂

Alexis Kemmler Simpson - I am making your recipe for ayvar for the second time tonight. It is so delicious! My husband has been to Bosnia a couple of times and has talked about the ayvar so much. I had to learn to make it. Your recipe seemed to him so much like what he had in Bosnia. Would you mind if I shared it with my CSA (Consumer Supported Agriculture) farmers who have lots of eggplants and peppers to sell right now? They want to pass the recipe on to their CSA members to give them ideas. Thank you for such a beautiful blog, by the way! Take care,
Alex

» Week 22: Bosnia and Herzegovina United Noshes - […] Ajvar | Red pepper and eggplant sauce | Recipe […]

Lana - These photos are great Krista, that village by the river looks so beautiful!

RamblingTart - Oh, thank you, Dennis! 🙂 Yes, PLEASE go to Bosnia! It is a gorgeous, gorgeous place. 🙂

RamblingTart - Thank you SO much, Lazaro! 🙂 You made me smile today. 🙂

Chef Dennis - first your images are amazing….what a beautiful country, and that eggplant dish looks so very very good!!
Now I think I need to go to Bosnia!

Lazaro - Interesting dish would love to give it a go. Breathtaking photography of some amazing landscapes. Great job.

Very nice profile pic by the way. Great smile.

Be well

RamblingTart - Oh, thank you, dear Oz! 🙂 You will LOVE this sauce. It’s my favorite condiment, I think. 🙂

RamblingTart - Sure did, Bekah! 🙂 Yes, we will have a good chat about it, and I can show you pics and tell you stories. 🙂

Kitchen Butterfly - I LOVE the photos. I love roasted eggplant recipes (and roasted red pepper recipes), so…..Thanks

Bekah Mae - Did not realize that you had been to Croatia! Remind me to ask you about that…

RamblingTart - You’re so welcome, Elra!! I love it too and this was my first time making it. 🙂 Delicious!

Elra - Thank you so much for the recipe, I love ajvar, and always want to make it. Tahnk you:)

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