Ajvar is consumed as a bread spread, a side dish or as a salad.The name ajvar comes from the Turkish word havyar, which means salted roe, caviar and shares an etymology with caviar. The word as first used in Serbia meant red caviar harvested from the middle and lower Danube (Smederevo, Đerdap and Kladovo), a popular dish in Belgrade homes and restaurants. When domestic production of ajvar/caviar diminished beginning in the 1890s, a paprika salad made from red bell peppers and called red ajvar or Serbian ajvar took its place in Belgrade restarurants.
Original homemade ajvar is made of roasted peppers, while some industrial producers use cooked peppers, which leads to a lower quality of ajvar.
Preparation of ajvar is somewhat difficult, as it involves a great deal of manual labour, especially as regards the peeling of the roasted peppers. Traditionally, it is prepared in mid-autumn, when bell peppers are most abundant, conserved in glass jars, and consumed throughout the year (although in most households stocks do not last until the spring, when fresh salads start to emerge anyway, so it is usually enjoyed as a winter food). Often, the whole family or neighbours gather to bake the bell peppers, peel them, and cook them. The principal cultivar of pepper used is called roga , i.e. horned — it is large, red, horn-shaped, with thick flesh and relatively easy to peel. It typically ripens in late September.
Ajvar is part of the so-called "zimnica" (winter foods), which include pickled chili peppers, pickled tomatoes, and anything else that can fit in a jar that gets prepared just before winter.