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Ajvar: A Macedonian Specialty
Name of Employee: Martin Ordevski
Foodstore Location: Portomaso
For this month's Global Cuisine issue, we spoke to Martin from Macedonia, our storekeeper in Foodstore Portomaso. Martin describes growing up in Macedonia as a simple life, where everybody enjoys spending time in nature. The numerous parks in his local village were the go-to destination for any outing, whether with family or friends, and they were frequented by people of all ages. An interesting tradition he chose to share with us is Slava, an annual Orthodox Christian tradition dedicated to celebrating each family’s protector saint on their chosen day. The day starts off with a holy liturgy at church and ends with a celebration dinner of Macedonian cuisine at the family’s home, shared with their friends and relatives. Martin decided to move to Malta around three years ago when he wanted a change and to embark on new opportunities. He is a hard worker and is determined to keep progressing in his role. He chose to share the Ajvar recipe with us as it is a favourite Winter Macedonian dish.
The Traditional Macedonian Recipe for Ajvar
Total Prep and Cook Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 1 jar, equivalent to 15-20 servings
• 7 large red peppers (Ajvarka peppers are traditionally used)
• 1 eggplant
• 1/3 cup sunflower oil
• 1 tbsp salt
• 1 tsp sugar
• 1 tsp black pepper
• 1 tsp white vinegar
• 1 tbsp chopped parsley (optional)
A wide variety of quality ingredients for our recipes are available from Arkadia supermarkets in Malta and Gozo, including Arkadia FoodExpress Swatar and Arkadia Food Market Valletta.
1. Preheat the oven to 240°C (470°F).
2. Cut the peppers in half and cook for 10-15 minutes until blackened.
3. Remove the peppers from the oven, place them in a large bowl, and cover the bowl with a wrap.
4. In the meantime, pierce the eggplant with a fork, and cook for 30 minutes until soft and darkened.
5. After 15 minutes, take the peppers out and remove any charred skin and seeds.
6. Once cool, trim the top off the eggplant and split it lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the soft flesh and discard the skin.
Note: Traditionally, the peppers and eggplant are left overnight before continuing the process, but if you don’t want to wait that long, you can proceed with the next step.
7. Place the peppers and what’s left of the eggplant in a food processor and blend.
8. Add everything to a large cooking bowl and let it simmer over medium-high heat for roughly 60-90 minutes. Keep stirring every few minutes and add roughly 100ml of oil every 20 minutes.
9. After 30 minutes, reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for another 30 minutes, but keep stirring.
10. Add the vinegar, salt, and sugar in the last 20 minutes of cooking, and mix until everything is incorporated.
11. In the meantime, take a jar and keep it in the oven at 100°C (212 °F) for 20 minutes.
12. Remove the ajvar and fill the hot jar with ajvar. Add some hot oil on the top of the jar and seal it.
13. Let it cool down before eating or for at least 24 hours before keeping it in the fridge.
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