Ajvar

I came across a jar of this roasted concoction at the local Union Market and fell in love it immediately. Smoky, sweet and sour. Its versatility can make it a tasty side dish or the stand alone dipping star enjoyed with crackers or bread. In Serbia, this relish is made as Fall rolls in and the local bell peppers are at their juiciest. Here is my version.

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Ingredients:
2-3 medium bell peppers
1 medium eggplant
1 tomato
1 clove garlic
2 tsp. tamarind paste
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
salt to taste

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Preparation:

  1. Wash and dry the vegetables.
  2. Roast over an open flame using tongs till the skin blackens all over. Tomato just needs a quick singeing over the flame to make it easier to peel.
  3. Peel the skin off once they have cooled.
  4. Core the peppers and tomato by cutting around the stem. Roughly chop the vegetables and transfer to a pot with the garlic, tamarind, sugar, pepper flakes and salt. I like to not use too many pepper flakes as the heat tends to overpower the other flavors.
  5. Cook over medium heat for about 10 mins.
  6. Take off heat and allow to cool slightly and then blend.
  7. Return to heat for another 10 mins. Make sure to check the balance of seasonings and add or subtract based on preference if necessary.
  8. Remove and enjoy. Any leftover relish can be transferred to a jar and refrigerated for the future as it stays well for months.
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