logo

The king of winter - Ajvar

Even Jamie Oliver did not resist this flavour

Thursday 8th of February 2018

cover image

Must have Serbian specialty is a favourite part of the gastronomic tradition. It is believed that it came to the Balkans along with the Turks and adapted to local taste in time. However, ajvar (a pepper-based condiment) is a unique Serbian member of the winter stores (home canning) and the name itself comes from the Turkish language. Ajvar is written "havyar" in Turkish and means caviar. So, there is nothing to do with Turkish dishes. A recognizable symbol of the culinary magic that is available only in Serbia.


It is made of red pepper. The garlic is added. When it is brighter red, then there are eggplants in the list of ingredients. It can have mild taste to extremely spicy. The sibling of the ajvar is pindzur or pindjur (a spicy relish form). The ingredients are the same, but the pepper is not minced as for ajvar but chopped into small pieces. A good recipe for homemade ajvar is worth its weight in gold.


Many ladies made it to the aisle thanks to a recipe that they inherited from their mothers. Mother got recipe from her mother. Grandma was told the right measure of pepper by her grandma. Therefore, when someone offers you domestic ajvar, consider that you are an important guest. There are many men who better prepare ajvar rather than eat it. Each jar of this specialty keeps a tradition that is passed down from generation to generation. A lot of love and effort has been invested in getting a unique flavour that marks every winter.

Ajvar and other specialties

There is frequently asked question which food ajvar fits best with. The answer is very simple. With all dishes. When it is spread on hot bread, the taste is best felt. Specific pepper aroma dominates and the feeling is fantastic. It fits perfectly with kebab, burgers, barbecue and other meat specialties. In winter, people eat it instead of fresh salad with each meal. French toast, bacon, cracklings, kajmak and ajvar are a powerful calorie "bomb" that gives energy and protects immunity. Ajvar is suitable for vegetarians. Vegans give it a big no because peppers are not in the natural edition.


Modern kitchen has not forgotten it, on the contrary, it often replaces the spread on bruschetti. The right option is to break monotony when pork or lamb and baked potatoes are served. Popular urnebes salad is nothing but ajvar into which crumbly old cheese, garlic and pepper are added. Let's put hand on our heart, it does not go only with fresh pepper salad.

The first use of ajvar was recorded in the 19th century when it was sold in one restaurant in Belgrade. Today, it is a mandatory product that is offered in the salad menu of every local cuisine restaurant. You do not have to look too much for the home version. It is almost everywhere. Always opt for a home ajvar. The one bought in the shop simply does not have that special taste.


Leskovac is a town in the south of Serbia, which is known across the world for breeding quality peppers. Right here, top-notch ajvar is made. Vegetable Association engaged and protected the ajvar called "Leskovacki ajvar". In addition, they are very much concerned with the process of production and geographical origin of ingredients - peppers primarily. If you find a jar with this label, buy it without thinking. Members of the Association are proud to say that they protected the only indigenous Serbian product. Residents of Leskovac often say that there are two types of people in the world. Those who love the ajvar and those who have never been to Serbia. Thanks to the curious Columbus, pepper arrived to the Balkan arable land. Everything else is original and ours.