This Djuvec rice is a simple, healthy, and super customizable veggie and flavor-packed side dish or main. Serve alongside a mid-week meal or at parties, potlucks, and BBQ’s. Plus, this vegetable rice recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, low fat, vegan, and uses just one pot!
Flavorful One Pot Vegetable Rice
Today I’m sharing something a little different for you, that isn’t well known in the US, but is something I absolutely love; Djuvec rice.
This dish is popular in Southeast Europe (including Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, and other Balkan countries). It’s also extremely popular in Germany and Austria – though it doesn’t have any German or Austrian origins.
In fact, the dish has several variations on the name depending on where you are; Güveç and Đuveč in Turkey and Bosnia, Gyuvech in Bulgaria, Giouvetsi in Greek, and several others (let me know in the comments if your own country has another name).
So, What Exactly Is Djuvec?
Djuvec (Đuveč – pronounced Joo-vetch) is a very common dish originating in Serbia from the Turkish word Güveç (goo-vetch), which refers to a type of earthenware casserole/stew dish used to create one-pot meals, particularly a stew of meat and vegetables.
In Serbia, Djuvec refers to a layered casserole with vegetables, meat, and rice often topped with a layer of tomatoes that caramelize and concentrate as they cook.
In comparison, Djuvec rice is a one-pot dish combining vegetables, rice, and seasonings – then traditionally served as a side dish alongside grilled meats such as Souvlaki, Gyros, or Cevapcici. The best part is that the rice soaks up all the delicious juices and flavors of the veggies and seasonings for something truly flavorful and comforting.
This particular vegan fried rice recipe is naturally plant-based and gluten-free and combines the flavors of Ajvar and Vegeta salt for a simple but flavor-packed rice dish. Best of all, it’s super customizable to ingredient subs, omissions, and additions.
What Are Ajvar And Vegeta?
These two ingredients give this vegetable rice its typical flavor and are available in many large food departments and online.
Ajvar is a popular condiment/ingredient in the kitchen of the Balkan countries and Turkey – coming from the word ‘havjar’ meaning caviar.
However, rather than containing anything from the sea, it consists primarily of roasted red peppers, seasonings, and oil, sometimes also eggplant. It can be sweet, mild, or hot, depending on what peppers/chilies are included.
When made at home, it’s often prepared during bell pepper season (mid-fall) and then preserved in jars for long-term storage.
Vegeta is a Croatian vegetable salt, extremely common in South-Eastern Europe. It is used as a ready-made seasoning combining vegetables (carrot, parsnip, celery, parsley, onion, etc.) and spices.
Even though it’s optional in this recipe, it’s used like other seasonings- for vegetables, soups, pasta, rice, potato, and proteins, etc. You can use vegetable bouillon powder instead.
The Step-By-Step Instructions
First Step: First, heat the olive oil in a large pot or frying pan. Add the onion and pepper and lightly sauté for 3-4 minutes.
Second Step: Add the garlic, Ajvar, spices (not the fresh herbs), and rice. Fry for a further 1-2 minutes until lightly aromatic.
Third Step: Then, add the crushed tomatoes and vegetable broth and stir well, bringing the mixture to a boil.
Fourth Step: Once boiling, reduce the heat to a low simmer and simmer covered for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Fifth Step: Add the frozen peas, mix, and simmer for a further 5-6 minutes. If you find that too much liquid evaporates, then add a little more vegetable broth or water.
Sixth Step: Taste the rice and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Serve up garnished with a little fresh parsley and lemon juice, if desired, then enjoy!
For the full ingredients list, ingredient measurements, and nutritional information, read the printable recipe card below. Check the step-by-step photos:
How To Serve
You can serve it alongside Vegan Sausages or Vegan Meatballs. Also, add a little Vegan Sour Cream on top of this healthy rice dish.
Store any leftover Djuvec rice in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Alternatively, you can freeze it for up to two months.
To reheat the rice, you can do so in the microwave, oven, or over the stove. Add a splash of water or vegetable broth if needed.
Useful Recipe Tips & Variations:
- You can use mild or spicy Ajvar (red pepper paste). Alternatively, you can use any other bell pepper paste or tomato paste, though the taste will be different.
- Use long-grain rice with shorter cooking times (i.e., Basmati or parboiled, etc.). Brown rice will take twice as long and require additional liquid for cooking. You can soak the rice in cold/lukewarm water for 20-30 minutes before cooking to reduce the cooking time by 20%.
- You can use a large heavy-based pan for this dish or even a cast-iron Dutch oven.
- This vegetable rice dish is super customizable. Feel free to mix up the vegetables you use in the dish depending on what you have and the time of year. Some examples are eggplant, zucchini, green beans, mushrooms, broccoli, etc.
I love flavorful, healthy rice recipes, so I often share them here on my blog. Below are a few options that you may be interested in checking out:
- SPANISH RICE AND BEANS
- CHEESY VEGAN RICE AND BEAN CASSEROLE
- TURMERIC RICE WITH COCONUT (1-POT RECIPE)
- BROWN RICE SALAD (EASY SUMMER SALAD)
- VEGAN MUSHROOM RISOTTO
- CREAMY VEGAN BROCCOLI RISOTTO
If you give this tasty Djuvec recipe a try, I’d love a comment and recipe rating below. Also, don’t forget to tag me in re-creations on Instagram or Facebook with @elavegan and #elavegan – I love seeing your recreations.
Djuvec (Vegetable Rice)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion diced
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 3-4 tbsp Ajvar (*see notes)
- 1 tbsp Vegeta (optional) or use vegetable bouillon powder
- 1 tsp paprika powder or more to taste
- 1/2 tsp onion powder (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup rice (*see notes)
- 1 (15 oz) can (425 g) crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups (480 ml) water or vegetable broth if not using bouillon powder
- 1 1/3 cups (200 g) peas frozen
- Fresh herbs to garnish (e.g. parsley)
- You can watch the video in the post for visual instructions.Heat olive oil in a large pot or frying pan. Add the onion and pepper and sauté for 3-4 minutes.
- Add garlic, Ajvar, all spices (except the fresh herbs), and rice and fry for 1-2 more minutes.
- Also, add the crushed tomatoes and the vegetable broth, stir well and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Let simmer covered for about 12-15 minutes at low heat, stirring occasionally.
- Then add the frozen peas and simmer for a further 5-6 minutes. If too much liquid evaporates, simply add more vegetable broth or water.
- Taste the rice and if necessary season with salt/pepper/spices. Garnish with fresh parsley and add a little lemon juice if desired. Enjoy!
- You can use mild or spicy Ajvar. Alternatively, you could use any other red pepper paste or tomato paste.
- Use dry rice that has a short cooking time (e.g. parboiled rice or basmati rice etc.). Brown rice would take twice as long and you would have to use much more liquid for cooking. You can also soak the rice in cold/lukewarm water for 20-30 minutes before cooking, this will reduce the cooking time by about 20%.
- You can freeze this vegetable rice for up to 2 months.
- Check the blog post for step-by-step photos and helpful tips.
- The recipe serves 4. Nutrition facts are for one serving.
Nutrition information is an estimate and has been calculated automatically
If you are using Pinterest, feel free to pin the following photo:
Hi I’m in Australia wondering if anyone has bought Ajvar over here, the fact that I haven’t heard of it is not really surprising but I’d like to know if it’s available here & or the closest thing to it, I wanted to say I’m really surprised at the short cooking times as well but if I can get Ajvar I’d give it a go
Hi Kay, as mentioned in the recipe notes, you will need to use rice that has a short cooking time (e.g. parboiled rice or basmati rice). You can also soak the rice in cold/lukewarm water for 20-30 minutes before cooking, this will reduce the cooking time by about 20%. Not sure if Ajvar is available in Australia. It consists primarily of roasted red peppers, seasonings, and oil, sometimes also eggplant. It can be sweet, mild, or hot, depending on what peppers/chilies are included.
OMG love this! I’m Croatian and I used to hate ot when my mum would make me eat it when I was a child. Now I’m happily hunting Vegeta and Ajvar (I don’t live in Croatia ☺️) to try this recipe. I love the addition of ajvar. Probably what my mum’s djuvec was missing ☺️
Great, I hope you will give it a try, Goranka. 🙂
I am Serbian and this is my favorite dish ever. Love it.
That’s wonderful, Maja. 🙂
Hi Ela, would this recipe work with bulgur?
Hi Melinda! I never tried it, but I think it could work. 🙂
Loved this recipe! So simple to make but super tasty and satisfying! I’ll definitely save it to make again in the future!
That’s amazing, Bethany! I am so glad you liked it. Thanks for your great feedback. 🙂