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If you head overseas and ask for chakalaka at a local restaurant, prepare to get a few quizzical looks. Chakalaka is one of those proudly South African dishes that you’ll probably struggle to find anywhere else in the world.

If you look it up, you will find that chakalaka thought to have originated in the townships of Johannesburg. Some believe that it filtered through from Mozambican mineworkers working at the local gold mines surrounding Jozi. One of the cheapest and easiest meals for them to cook was tinned beans and tomatoes with chilli, which gave the dish that Portuguese spiciness synonymous with Mozambican dishes. This was traditionally served with pap or rice and was a firm favourite for its flavour and affordability. It was always homemade chakalaka served to family and friends in those days, but over time with increased popularity, South African chakalaka has become more commercialised.

Nowadays, you can walk into your local Spar or Checkers and buy a mild or hot spicy chakalaka in a can! You can add it to stews, heat it and serve it with pap or even add it to mince for a bit of interest. That’s the thing about chakalaka sauce; it’s so versatile that you can do almost anything with it. In fact, most people have used chakalaka in a non-traditional sense and loved it – that’s surely the South African way!

Homemade chakalaka

Interesting things you can make with South African chakalaka

The question begs to be answered; what can you do with chakalaka? The realistic answer is lots! And, of course, we want to share two of our favourite chakalaka recipes with you. We’ve taken the time to choose our firm favourites as there are many chakalaka recipes to choose from. A quick search online will have you overwhelmed with options (you may want to try them all!)

First up on our list is Cheesy Chakalaka Buns! This one is quick and easy to whip up!

How to make cheesy chakalaka buns

To get started, gather the following chakalaka ingredients (this recipe makes 12 buns):

  • 1 tin of chakalaka (hot and spicy with brans)
  • 1 packet of bread dough
  • 1 cup of cheese grated
  • 3 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • ½ teaspoon of salt

What to do:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  • Separate the dough into 12 sections and roll them into balls
  • Dust the counter lightly with flour and then flatten each ball.
  • Place a tablespoon of chakalaka and beans into the middle of the dough and sprinkle with grated cheese.
  • Fold the dough ball over to seal it, and using a fork, press the edges down to create a seam.
  • Place each dough ball onto a greased baking tray with the seam down.
  • In a saucepan, heat the butter and oil over medium heat.
  • Add the fresh parsley, salt, and garlic, and saute until the onions turn seethrough.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and brush the garlic butter onto the dough balls.
  • Pop the baking tray into the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the dough is cooked through the buns turn golden brown.

That’s it – all that’s left to do is enjoy!

For another chakalaka treat, try making the next dish on our list; meaty chakalaka sheet pan pie!

How to make meaty chakalaka sheet pan pie

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil
  • ½ finely diced onion
  • 1 grated garlic clove
  • 750g of beef mince
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 cup of beef stock
  • 2 sheets of puff pastry
  • 1 tin of chakalaka
  • 1 cup of sweetcorn
  • 1 teaspoon of mixed herbs
  • 1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 beaten egg
  • Fresh parsley to garnish

What to do:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  • In a frying pan, fry the onion and garlic in the oil until the onions go soft and start turning golden brown.
  • Add the mince and brown it lightly.
  • Add the tomato paste, dry herbs, stock, and Worcestershire sauce to the pan and stir in. Allow to simmer for around 20 minutes until the sauce slightly thickens, and most of the water cooks away.
  • Spread one of the puff pastry sheets onto a greased baking tray and spread the chakalaka sauce and sweetcorn over it.
  • Top this layer with the grated mozzarella cheese, and then place the second puff pastry sheet on top. Press down to make it fit snugly.
  • Using a fork, press the edges down to seal it and make a pie crust edging.
  • Brush the beaten egg over the top layer and score the surface several times with a  knife. This will allow the steam to escape during baking.
  • Pop the baking tray into the oven and allow to bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is cooked through and starts turning golden brown.

All that’s left to do is serve and enjoy!

Both of these dishes pair well with a fresh garden salad and a small serving of potato chips. Serve it up to family, friends, or new acquaintances keen to taste something uniquely South African.

Whip up a chakalaka treat and then get in touch with FinGlobal

If you’re planning on seeking out greener pastures abroad, one thing’s for sure; you’re going to need a few traditional South African recipes to take along with you! In addition to that, you’ll also need expert advice and guidance on tax and financial emigration from the country. At FinGlobal, we have a decade of experience in the industry and a sound reputation for assisting SA expats the world over. Whether you’re in the planning stages or have already made a move and want to get your finances in order, we’re ready and available to assist. For help and guidance, all you have to do is contact us. You can give us a call on +27 28 312 2764 or email us at info@finglobal.com today.