If you have ever been to Bulgaria or at least have a Bulgarian friend, chances are that you have tried lyutenitsa.
For the unlucky ones, who have missed out on Bulgarian culinary culture so far, lyutenitsa is a universal (best homemade) mouth-watering vegetable relish that you can eat in any form and at any time, literary … it works for breakfast, brunch, as a spread, as an appetizer or a side for meat.
And if you have been on a trip with us at Excedo, than you most certainly know what great lyutenitsa tastes like.
I often get asked what this savory Bulgarian relish is made of and how you prepare it, so we at Excedo decided to show you how we go about it – old school style!
Here is what you need in terms of ingredients:
- 10 kg of red peppers (choose straight ones as they are easier to roast)
- 5 kg of tomatoes
- a cup of olive oil
So far so good …
The next important step (though I guess one could improvise) is to rummage Grandma’s basement and look for a (meat) grinder, some jars with caps, a jar closer and a paprika seed remover.
After you have assembled your preferably homegrown ingredients and vintage tools, it is time to get to work.
We first take out the core of the red peppers. It’s pretty easy if you have a seed remover, but one could alternatively use a knife – however, be careful not to damage the body.
Then we light a fire and mentally prepare ourselves to get roasted together with the peppers.
I guess one can also use a barbecue, but it would take a lot of more time. You really need intensive heat for the process. Or you could purchase one of Bulgaria’s most important patented inventions – a chushkopek, a.k.a. a red pepper roasting device, designed specifically for the purpose.
After all your 10 kg of red peppers are well roasted, so as to be almost completely black, it is time to get your hands dirty … you should also be prepared to smell like roasted peppers for at least the next two days.
We peel the skin off the peppers and process them together with the tomatoes through the grinder.
Once our roasted paprika & tomatoes mix is ready, you season it with a cup of olive oil and salt and sugar to taste and put it over the fire till it boils.
The final steps are pretty straightforward – fill the jars, close them and pressure can (boil them) over the fire for 30 min.
Of course, after all is ready and done we must taste the fruits of our hard work.
For me personally, lyutenitsa is best served over a thick slice of crusty white bread, with Bulgarian white cheese and traditional dried meat like sudzhuk and pastarma … but as I said in the beginning, it works in any form and at any time. So last but not least – ENJOY!