Even though not nearly as famous as its ultra-popular cousin, the ajvar, the traditional pindjur recipe results in a tasty spread that’s an irreplaceable part of Macedonian cuisine. Pindjur looks and even tastes kind of similar to ajvar, arguably the most popular spread/appetizer of the Balkans but there are a few substantial differences. This article will tell you everything you need to know about pindjur and of course, how to prepare it.
What Is Pindjur?
Pindjur is a spread traditionally prepared with using different vegetables, including peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and eggplants but combinations including other vegetables aren’t uncommon. The main ingredient for the traditional pindjur recipe are cow-horn peppers, a fragrant, not too spicy pepper that can be found in abundance in the Balkan Region. The dish originates from the Republic of Macedonia but can also be found in some other Balkan countries, such as Serbia, Bulgaria, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and even Romania.
This leads us to the next point…
Salted fish roe was very popular in Balkan countries in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was one of the most popular dishes among the elites and something that every tavern in the region would serve as a specialty. However, in the mid-19th century, difficulties with supply made serving this popular dish difficult and a lot of tavern owners started experimenting with the ingredients they had.
After a process of trial and error, the delicious spreads of ajvar and pindjur were born even though there are some sources that claim these spreads were popular in many households in the region even before this era. It was after this that the two spreads started spreading across the Balkan and became an irreplaceable part of not only local cuisines but the local culture as well.
Some people say that pindjur, ajvar, and lutenica are all variations of the same dish as someone that grew up with these dishes, I couldn’t agree with this. Lutenica might be a variation of ajvar but the pindjur recipe and the ajvar recipe have enough differences to be classified as two separate dishes. However, there are a lot of local variations of pindjur in different countries across the Balkan. Here are the most common ones.
In Macedonia, the most popular pindjur variation is malidzano. It’s a dish prepared by using peppers, tomatoes, and aubergines, without garlic and with some mustard. This variation is also popular in Croatia.
Bulgaria and Turkey have kuopolou, a pindjur variation that uses primarily eggplant and garlic, while Romania has zacusca which uses the same ingredients as kuopolou but looks slightly different.
Some variations of the pindjur recipe can even be found in the Maghreb and Levantine. In Morocco, they have matbucha, zaalouk, and taktouka. Both are appetizers that are primarily served as salads and use almost the same ingredients as pindjur. In the Levant, they have a similar spread known as muhammara made from bell peppers that contains pomegranate molasses and nuts.
As you can see, all these pindjur variations have one thing in common; they’re used as a spread or a dipping sauce and are usually consumed as an appetizer or a side dish. However, in the Balkans, pindjur has another, alternative use (more about this below)…
Traditionally, before the summer ends, locals in the Balkan region prepare pindjur (and ajvar) preserve in bulk and store it for the winter. In the past, before importing fruits and vegetables was a thing, this was done because people knew that they won’t have access to fresh vegetables during the winter but the tradition lives even today. Making pindjur in bulk saves some time and allows people to have pindjur every time they crave for it.
The process of preparing a pindjur preserve is almost the same. You just have to use a bigger baking machine and more ingredients, and fry the preserve better before storing it in the jar. In the end, you also have to make sure the liquid evaporates before you close the jars tightly.
Preparing And Serving Tips
Before you start baking, blacken the peppers, wrap them in a plastic wrap, and let them cool off. This will make peeling the peppers a lot easier.
If you don’t want to use vinegar (as most pindjur recipe variations include vinegar), you can add some unripe tomatoes into the mix.
The secret behind a successful pindjur recipe lies in the perfect balance between salt, sugar, and vinegar but needless to say, this balance can be different for different people and if you don’t like the balance of our recipe, you can always experiment.
As for the serving, pindjur is usually served with some white cheese (sirene) or feta cheese and bread, zelnik, gibanica, or kifli (sometimes even steamed potatoes) but it’s also a very nice side dish to tavce gravce or sarma.
Even though not as famous as its popular cousin, ajvar, the traditional pindjur recipe results in a tasty spread that’s an important part of Macedonian cuisine
- 7 Cow-Horn Peppers
- 4 Tomatoes
- 3 Eggplants
- 4 Garlic Cloves
- 3 Tablespoons Salt
- 2 Tablespoons Black Pepper
- 1 and 1/2 Tablespoon Vinegar
- 1 Cup Sunflower Oil
1. Grill the vegetables, preferably, the day before making the pindjur and leave them overnight.
2. Add the peppers in a baking pot and bake for 20 minutes at 180 C (360 F).
3. If needed, turn the peppers occasionally and make sure they’re slightly darkened on all sides.
4. Take the peppers out, cover them with a plastic bag and let them cool off.
5. Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet and bake them for 20 minutes at 180 C (360 F).
6. Put the tomatoes in a bowl and cover them with a plastic wrap until they cool off.
7. Bake the eggplants for 20 minutes at 180 C (360 F).
8. Take the eggplants out and cover them with a plastic wrap until they cool off.
9. Once cooled off, start peeling the vegetables. Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers and the skin from the eggplants.
10. Slice the peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants, keep them in a large bowl, and let them dry overnight.
11. Remove the skin from the tomatoes and cut them into tiny pieces.
12. Slice the garlic into tiny pieces and add combine it with the other vegetables.
13. Add some salt, sugar, and vinegar and cook on low heat for approximately 3 hours while stirring regularly.
14. Increase the heat at the end and aim to make the dish as dry as possible.
15. Once all the liquid evaporates, the pindjur is ready.
16. Top the pindjur with some parsley, serve it with some bread and cheese and enjoy!
17. If you want to store it in a jar, wait for the pindjur to cool off before you seal it.
Serving Size:100 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 35Total Fat: 0.5gSaturated Fat: 0.1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0.02mgSodium: 0.28mgCarbohydrates: 7.8gNet Carbohydrates: 7.8gFiber: 1.6gSugar: 7.3gProtein: 2.1g
A Few Things You Might Need For Making Pindjur
Did you ever try a pindjur? How did you like our pindjur recipe? If you found it helpful, don’t forget to leave us a rating.
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