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What is Pinjur Sauce?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Pinjur sauce is a slightly spicy, savory sauce which is native to Eastern Europe. It is especially popular in Macedonia and Yugoslavia, and it is also found in other areas in the region, often going by a variety of other names such as ajvar. This sauce can be used straight just like a condiment, and it can also be added to other sauces and cooked dishes to add its distinctive flavor; many people, for example, like to add pinjur sauce to their pasta sauce.

Basic pinjur sauce is made with eggplant, garlic, and olive oil, typically seasoned with fresh herbs. Some cooks also add roasted red peppers for a slightly smoky flavor, and chopped nuts, especially walnuts, are not uncommon either. Essentially, pinjur sauce is like a kind of relish, tending to be very thick and chunky with a kick from the garlic and some tang from the eggplant. Depending on how it is seasoned, pinjur sauce may also be slightly sweet.

Many people use this sauce as a spread on crackers, breads, and other foods, and it can also used as a dip for vegetables, roast meats, and so forth. Straight pinjur can also be mixed with various ingredients to make dressings, and some people enjoy a layer of pinjur in sandwiches, lasagnas, and so forth. Pinjur sauce may make its way into soups, stews, marinades, and other sauces, as well, where the concentrated flavor can carry a long way, totally transforming a dish.

This sauce can also be a great addition to a buffet, where it may be laid out with a spread of other sauces and dips. Pinjur sauce is also an excellent accompaniment to spreads of tapas or meze, where it fits right in with many of the traditional inclusions in these Mediterranean snack spreads.

Many grocery stores sell pinjur sauce, especially if they cater to an Eastern European clientele, and you can also make it at home. Start by roasting an eggplant until soft, and while the eggplant cooks, mash together several cloves of garlic in olive oil, adding salt and pepper to make a grainy paste. When the eggplant is finished, chop it loosely into chunks and mix it with the garlic paste, adding fresh herbs to taste and chopped nuts or roasted pepper if desired. Keep the pinjur sauce refrigerated until use, and plan to use it within the week, or to freeze it for up to three months.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon931087 — On Feb 07, 2014

Pindjur is eaten everywhere in Macedonia. We used to eat a really unique dish that was made from mashed zucchini and fried with batter and eaten hot with Pindjur, the best dish on the planet. I do believe that Pindjur originates from Macedonia.

By candyquilt — On Oct 07, 2011

I read about pinjur sauce in the news. Apparently there is a minor war going on between several Eastern European countries because of it. They're all trying to trademark the sauce as theirs and want it to be known across international markets with their name. The article said that it appears as if Macedonia would get the trademark.

I don't know how fair it is to do that. I know that almost all of the Eastern European countries eat pinjur and have their slightly different and unique recipes for it. I've also see it in Arab groceries in United Arab Emirates, so clearly it is eaten even beyond this region.

I don't think that anyone knows for sure where pinjur originated. That's why it wouldn't be fair to allow one country to trademark pinjur sauce and claim it as their country's property.

Don't you agree?

By burcinc — On Oct 06, 2011

I ate a lot of ajvar when I was in Serbia. My dad is half Serbian, so I went to visit family there last summer. My grandmother made a huge batch of ajvar in late summer/early fall. I think that's the norm in that region since the ingredients- especially the red peppers, chili peppers and eggplants- are really abundant then.

I was told that pindjur is actually a type of ajvar rather than another name for it. My grandmother asked me how I would like the ajvar, sweet or spicy, and I said sweet. Then she replied, "Oh, you like pindjur. I will make pindjur for you."

I think pindjur has less red peppers and more eggplants than ajvar and doesn't have any chili peppers at all. Ajvar is the spicier one with more peppers and chilis than eggplants.

By SteamLouis — On Oct 06, 2011

I love this stuff. I make a chicken and pasta dish with canned pinjur (or pindjur, I've seen it spelled both ways), it's way better than any other kind of canned pasta sauce. I think it's goes great with meat, especially chicken.

When I feel like having something spicy, I also eat pinjur like salsa with some sour cream and tortilla chips.

I do wish it was more easily found though. So far, I've been able to find it in one organic store and an Eastern European grocery store. I buy from both of them since both are really good but they are a bit of a drive from where I live. I guess I could learn the recipe and make it myself too.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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