How to make AJVAR – the most important part of a winter meal in Croatia

Photo: Unsplash (Kostiantyn Li)

Ajvar is a crucial part of every traditional winter meal in Croatia. At the end of summer, many families make ajvar following the old recipes of our ancestors. Ajvar made at home is not for sale but is stored in the pantry for family and friends. Let’s look at the recipe.


12 kg of paprika
6 kg of eggplant
approx. 1 l of oil
1 garlic


1. The first step, which is also the longest, is roasting the paprika and eggplants. Paprika can also be “boiled” before grinding instead of baking, but I think that baking gives a more special flavor to the ajvar itself.

I like to bake peppers and eggplants a day earlier, purely because of the long baking time.

2. After baking, peeling the skin of the paprika and eggplant follows, which is very simple. The secret is that the paprika MUST go into a hot oven and that the skin later goes down without any problems.

Eggplants take a little longer to bake, but I don’t think there is any problem with peeling them.

3. After peeling, grinding follows. You can use a meat grinder.

I mix the paprika and eggplants during grinding because the eggplant is dry and the paprika is more moist, so it speeds up the process.

Likewise with garlic, if it is in smaller pieces, it is more pleasant than biting into it during the meal.

4. After grinding, put the ingredients in a pot with about 0.20 ml of oil. We add oil for as long as the mixture absorbs. I used about 1l.

We add vinegar depending on how you like it (do not add too much because ajvar can spoil).

Salt and pepperoni or chili peppers can be added if you like it.

5. After 4 to 5 hours, take the ajvar off the stove (you can mash it a little if necessary).

We put it in preheated bottles (about 20 minutes in the oven).

After we pour it in bottles, we put it in a heated oven for half an hour to get a crust.

The next day, we put HOT oil on top to fry the ajvar (this process is to prevent the ajvar from spoiling). After that, we close it immediately.

And that’s it, have a nice meal!

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