It is early autumn in Macedonia. It is in a small country located on the Balkan Peninsula with gentle and friendly people. During this period every housewife prepares delicious meal for the winter period. This tasty thing can be made of red peppers and sunflower oil and you can add some spices for better taste. The other variant is when ajvar is made of green peppers, mustard and eggplant.
Every September, most of the families in this country prepare this traditional recipe and the most interesting thing about it is that in this period all the small towns have the characteristic smell of it. In every other country when there is a traditional event like this, the price of the ingredients decrease or you can find discounts on selected products. But, in Macedonia this is not the same. The producers increase the price of the products because this is the time when they can have a bigger profit for their products.
Last year I was in my hometown to help my mother make another batch of this delicious ajvar. It is not hard to make, but it does take a lot of time. It depends on how many kilograms of peppers you want to prepare. First of all, we have to pick the most convenient peppers for our recipe. Thanks to my mother, because she knows which one are the best, so we chose them. It was an early Saturday morning, and we were on the Market in the nearby town. After that, we started to bake them in a traditional “kjumbe”. It is an outdoor product like an oven but it is heated with wood. It is made of sheet metal and it has a chimney.
The selected peppers are arranged on the top of the kjumbe. After they are cooked, we put them in a special plastic bag to get soft so we can peel them. After that, we clean them by taking out the seeds from the inside and also removing the stalk of the pepper. After that, they have to be ground with a special machine. This is very hard because if you use two bags of peppers you have to be prepared that it will take much time and also you will be exhausted by the end of the process. After that we have to fry the mixture for about two hours. It is very interesting because all the neighbors come to help you and you give them rakia to drink and of course the party can start.
While some of us are mixing the ground peppers, the rest of us are laughing and talking and creating memories. When we see the end result, we order “kjebap” from the grill house to try the new product. This is the most interesting day where all of the family is here tasting the new ajvar. It is tradition to give one jar of ajvar to your relatives to try it and to have one until they make their own.
It is very delicious and I invite you to come and taste it.