Char the pepper over an open flame. I like to do this over my gas-burner 'hob', turning it occasionally with tongs - this can also be done over an outdoors grill (barbecue method in recipe notes/FAQs). Alternatively, you can purchase a heat-proof wire cooking rack to place over the flame- that way you can just turn the veggies over as each side gets blistered and charred.As soon as it's charred, place it in an airtight jar.
Charr the eggplant in the same way - the skin will begin to shrivel as it chars. It's ready when it's well charred and starting to shrivel up - usually 4-5 mins per side.If you find that your red pepper/eggplant are fully charred but the flesh isn't tender, you can transfer them to a baking sheet and bake at 400ºF/200ºC until almost collapsing (this can take between 10-25 minutes).As soon as the eggplant is charred, place it in an airtight jar too.
Step 2: Remove the skin
Keep the pepper and the eggplant in the airtight jar/s and allow them to steam for 10 minutes. This will make them really easy to peel and will give them the distinct smoky flavor.
After steaming, peel the skin from both and discard it.
Step 3: Mash the eggplant red pepper dip
Break the red pepper apart and remove the stem and seeds then blend it in a food processor until it's a thick puree.
Add the pepper along with all the remaining ingredients to a large bowl and use a fork to mash the eggplant into a combined eggplant red pepper dip.For a smoother dip, you can add all of the ingredients to the food processor and process them into a smooth mixture. I usually mash it by hand to be more reminiscent of traditional baba ganoush.
Top with some parsley and optionally a drizzle of pomegranate molasses, a little olive oil, and pomegranate seeds.
How To Make-Ahead and Store
Make ahead: the pepper and eggplant can be cooked in advance and stored, peeled, in the fridge for 1-2 days before continuing with the recipe.Store: allow the eggplant red pepper dip to cool completely and then store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for between 3-4 days.I haven't tried freezing this dip as I would imagine that the textures would be altered. However, if you try then please let me know the results.
If you find the eggplant red pepper dip a little 'thin' or watery: transfer it to a pan and cook over low heat until it reduces to your preferred consistency. In fact, ajvar sauce is typically simmered for over 2+hrs to reduce and develop the flavors.
For a 'silkier' spread: feel free to add olive oil to the dip when mashing. It will yield improved mouth-feel but isn't necessary.
This recipe was NOT designed with long-term preservation in mind, so I cannot recommend attempting to 'can/jar' it.
Adapt this to your preferred heat level: The original eggplant red pepper dip just contains a sweet bell pepper. However, you can easily adjust the heat by adding a charred chili of your desired heat level (click the link and scroll down for a list of peppers and their heat level).