After a recent visit to Macedonia to visit some of my partner’s family, I discovered a new and wonderful edible treat. Hajvar is a relish made from red peppers and it is found on any self-respecting Albanians breakfast, lunch, or dinner table. Typically made before to the winter, it is preserved in jars to eat during the long winter months to provide flavour, and a burst of colour to mealtimes.
It can be eaten on bread, used as a dip, or added to soup, stews, and meats, or if you love it like I do, eaten straight out of the jar. This delicious treat is best made and then left to mature for a few weeks or months to develop its optimum flavour.
Salivating? This is how to make it!
- 1kg of red peppers- you can use sweet bell, hot, or any mixture or combination of the red peppers at your disposal
- Bowl of cold water
- 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 1 Tablespoons of salt
- ½ Tablespoon of black pepper
- ½ cup of virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup vinegar
- Spices, chili, or other herbs to taste and preference (paprika, chili powder, a sprinkle of sugar etc)
- Cut the peppers in half, removing the seeds and the stem and place under a hot grill until thoroughly grilled. The skin of the peppers should be blistered in places and almost charred all over.
- Remove and place into a bowl of very cold water.
- When the peppers are cool, remove the papery skin and any remaining seeds and mash the peppers until you get a fine paste.
- Add all of the other ingredients to the paste.
- Cook over a low heat in a covered pot for around 2 hours. Keep checking the mixture to ensure that the mixture hasn’t dried out, and add water if necessary.
- Place the mixture in a sterilised jar, seal, and leave to cool.
- You can then keep the product in the fridge or in a cool room for months and months and enjoy it with every meal!