I made this combination of ingredients for the first time when I created this salad and I was very pleasantly satisfied with the result, so I decided to share the recipe with you. But before I continue with the recipe, let me say a few words about one of the main ingredients for this salad, the one that actually gives it the orange color - ajvar.
Ajvar is a type of relish made of red peppers. It is very popular in Balkan countries, but it can also be found worldwide. It is a highly respected dish in those countries, a delicacy alike caviar. In fact, ajvar itself is called "Balkan caviar". :)
Each Balkan country has its own "official" recipe for ajvar, but as far as I know, the original ajvar is made from red peppers only.
Whichever ingredients are used, all of these relishes are made in bigger quantities, like more than 20 kg of final product. The preparation asks for a day-work, sometimes even two. It is usually made in mid-autumn, when red peppers are most abundant. Red peppers are first roasted on a special wood-burning stoves, then peeled, minced and eventually cooked for a quite long time on the same stoves. Of course, some other secret ingredients are also added... :) In fact, there is a saying in some of the Balkan countries which describes perfectly this variety of ajvar relishes: "Every experienced housewife has her own secret ajvar recipe." :) The final product is packed in glass jars and eaten all over the year, but mostly during winter time, as spring brings fresh vegetables. Ajvar is served as bread spread, but it's also a very common ingredient for other savory dishes.
Except for this homemade version of ajvar, there is also an industrial production in those countries which provides an export of this relish worldwide. But in this mass production peppers are cooked rather than roasted which makes significant changes in taste: store-bought ajvar is by far less tasty and with a much lower quality. However, if you can't provide a homemade ajvar, the store-bought will work as well.
This is how my homemade ajvar (made by my mom) looks like:
List of ingredients:
- Bring some water to boiling and cook the rice. Drain and let it cool a bit.
- Dice carrot and cook it as well. You can do it in the same pot with rice. Drain and let it cool a bit.
- Dice cucumbers, cheese and deli meat. Everything should be cut into small cubes, app. 5x5 mm.
As for the deli meat, I used 100 g ham and 100 g salami, but you can use any other of your choice.
- Combine rice, carrots, cucumbers, deli meat and cheese, add ajvar and mix.
Now add some sour cream. The quantity depends on how thick you want your salad. I used 2 tablespoons and it was just fine.
Add some salt to taste and mix again.
- Let it stand in the fridge for an hour or more before serving so that tastes mix up a bit. But you can serve it right away if you can't wait that long. :)
It can be served as an appetizer or even as a main dish with some bread.
Enjoy and bon appétit!