The ketonisation of legendary Ajvar (Ayvar)
Keto Ajvar is something that Balkan food lovers will embrace with great excitement! However, if you never visited one of the countries in this historically turbulent peninsula, then maybe you haven’t even heard about it. It sounds much like a Viking name, doesn’t it?
Well, I am not quite sure how this name applies to red pepper and eggplant dip because its origin is related to caviar dip! In fact, The name of Ajvar comes from Turkish: hayvar, meaning “fish egg” (roe), and shares the etymology with caviar. Prior to the 20th century, there was a significant local production of caviar on the river Danube. Today, nobody relates Ajvar to Roe, even though it looks quite similar. In Greece, this vegetable dip is known only in the northern parts, while in the south they serve roe-dip called “Taramasalata”
What makes original Ajvar non-Keto?
Even though we eat eggplants and red horn peppers on Keto, the original recipe calls for sunflower oil and sugar! Really? Why in the world would you use sunflower oil? Well, this is telling us that the origin of modern Ajvar is not so ancient. The over popularisation of refined sunflower oil all over Europe started sometimes in mid 20th century. The traditional cooking fats – lard, butter, ghee and olive oil were replaced with this highly toxic cooking oil. So, we might think, replacing the refined sunflower oil with a healthier source of fat will fix our Ketonisation problem! However, if Ajvar is prepared without sugar, it usually gets too hot and spicey! But, we’ll fix that problem too!
The power of great nutrients
Even though there is no official definition of “superfood”, it actually includes all foods that contain a wealth of chemicals, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Therefore, their consumption can have a positive effect on the health and prevention of many diseases. Ajvar is especially beneficial during the winter months when we don’t have enough of sun rays and fresh vegetables available. This Balkan-indigenous product is considered as functional food in view of the nutritional value. Thanks to red peppers and eggplant, this is quite a healthy condiment.
Mighty Beta-carotene and Capsaicin
Red peppers contain plenty of Vitamin B, C and E, as well as high-grade co-enzymes, antioxidants and phytochemicals such as lutein, capsaicin and beta-carotene. Beta-carotene and lutein are responsible for maintaining the health and the protection of eyes and skin. On the other side, Capsaicin can help control the inflammatory processes. Furthermore, research has shown that Capsaicin promotes vascular and metabolic health. Vegetables which are rich in beta-carotene, usually don’t lose a big amount of their vitamin C content when cooked!
Keto Ajvar – Healthier and quicker version
The traditional Ajvar is prepared for hours and in large quantities. Usually, the whole family participates and the joy of opening jars of Ajvar lasts throughout the winter. The process is complicated because the red horn peppers have to be roasted, peeled, minced, cooked in oil for hours. The consistency has to be thick and creamy! Garlic and salt are the main spices, while vinegar plays a major role in the conservation process! However, in most traditional recipes sugar is added!
No, we don’t want sugar!
Keto version that I am going to present you today will attack two main sensitive spots of Ajvar tradition. We will ditch the sunflower oil and we will not stay strictly in the plant-based kingdom! Furthermore, we will not use sugar, just a dash of stevia to keep the acidity under control.
Ready for this special ketonisation?
Let’s get to work and prepare Keto Ajvar!
- 6 large Sweet horn peppers red
- 1 large eggplant
- 4-5 cloves garlic
- 3 tbsp butter preferably goat butter
- 6 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1 micro-scoop 100% stevia extract
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- Wash the sweet horn peppers, cut them in halves and clean them from the seeds. Sprinkle with some olive oil. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast them in the oven at 200ºC (392ºF)for 15 minutes.
- Remove the peppers from the oven, place them in a deep plate and cover them with another plate so that they get steamed. After 5 minutes, uncover them and gently remove the thin skin. Chop them into small pieces.
- Peel and cut the eggplant in long slices and place them in a baking pan. Add butter on top of each slice. Cut the garlic in halves and place on top of butter on each slice. Bake it for 15 minutes at 200ºC. When the eggplant is nicely roasted, remove it from the oven and chop into small pieces the same size as peppers. Keep all the butter that has melted.
- In a deep saucepan, pour in the olive oil and add cut peppers, let them fry for 2-3 minutes at medium temperature. Then, add eggplant and garlic mixture all together with melted butter that was baked with the eggplant. Add salt and stir with a wooden spoon.
- Cook Ajvar for 15-20 minutes on low temperature and constantly stir. In the end, add apple cider vinegar and stir energetically.
- Place a 500 ml mason jar into a pot with boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Remove it, dry it with kitchen paper and immediately pour in your Keto Ajvar. Let it cool down halfway and then cover with a lid. Keep it in the refrigerator.
- Serve as a dip or healthy Keto spread. 50g of Keto fatty Ajvar would be a perfect portion due to the great macronutrient ratio. You can also mix it with sour cream or mashed avocado.