My gorgeous Bosnian friend Tanya Bozic and her daughter Anika joined us for Thanksgiving dinner. Tanya brought a homemade poppy seed cake for dessert. She also brought us a gift -- a bottle of Biljana Makedonski Hot Ajver, her favorite commercial variety. The bottle says "homemade" on the outside. "It's chunky, like my mom used to make it," Tanya said.
Ajver (pronounced I-var) is the preferred condiment of all of my friends from Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia. They wouldn't dream of eating cevapcici (or any other grilled meat dish) without it. Tanya likes it for breakfast on buttered bread. (It's also great on leftover turkey sandwiches.) Thanks to the fact that I have so many friends from the former state of Yugoslavia, I have developed a taste for ajver myself.
The spread is made of red peppers and eggplant with a touch of garlic and lots of olive oil. In a great ajver, the peppers and eggplant are roasted or grilled, so the spread has a smoky flavor -- sort of like a proper baba ghanoush. (While I get a lot of baba ghanoush-flavored with Liquid Smoke, I haven't run into any fake smoke in the ajver yet.)
Ajver generally comes in your choice of hot or mild. If you like chile peppers, you will love the hot-and-spicy variety of ajver. You can get Biljana-brand ajver at Phoenicia food store. Or you can make your own.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.