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No matter where you reside on the globe, as a South African, your roots automatically search for traditional South African food that reminds you of home. It’s a cultural thing, especially if that food incorporates our favourite method of cooking, the braai! As braai recipes go, there are millions from which to choose. Quite simply, we’ve learned to cook everything on the coals of the smoky braai. Non-South Africans may ask why; the answer is simple – it just tastes better! It’s also an excellent way of connecting with family and friends away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

South African food

The origins of the braaibroodijie

One of the most traditional foods at any self-respecting braai is the braaibroodjie. In the beginning, when the earth was created, the braaibroodjie was centre stage! Okay, maybe not that far back! But, almost! For many years the braaibroodjie recipe has been quite simplistic. A simple combination of bread, tomato, onions, and cheese all squidged together and toasted on the smokey coals; it’s been a firm favourite for centuries. Often served at the end of the braai once all the succulent steaks have been consumed, a braai without a braaibroodjie in hand is simply steak on a fire. Where is the fun in that?

That said, over time, the braaibroodjie has evolved. South African braai chefs have tweaked their recipes into something a little more gourmet. Experimenting with different cheeses, fillings, chutneys, and bread, our braai heroes at home certainly have put experienced chefs to shame! Enter center stage the chakalaka braaibroodjie. Incorporating all the flavours of the original braaibroodjie resep, it adds just the right amount of spiciness to an already perfect braai side dish.

What is chakalaka?

This is a spicy dish consisting mainly of tomatoes and onions. Other variations also include peppers, garlic, and chillies. Usually, the spices used are curry-based and include turmeric, coriander, cardamom, and cumin. Because of the recipe’s simplicity and relatively cheap ingredients, this dish was originally the staple diet of the poorer communities living in Johannesburg.

It’s pretty simple to whip up a chakalaka recipe of your own; you probably have the ingredients in your fridge right now. Here is a quick recipe for those who want to try their hand at homemade chakalaka.

What you need

  • 4 large vine tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 100g chopped coriander
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What to do

  • Heat the oil in a pan and add the garlic, onions, and curry powder. Sauté until the onions are soft and glassy.
  • Add the sliced tomatoes and peppers and allow to simmer for four to five minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the chopped coriander just before serving.

Chakalaka is so versatile you can use it as a side dish, salsa, and even relish. Why not slice up a few chillies to give your chakalaka a snappy flavour? Alternatively, add some grated carrot and baked beans to the simmering tomato and pepper mix. Then serve on a bed of sticky rice for a tasty midweek vegetarian dish.

The spicey aroma of chakalaka has become so popular that this delicious frisson of flavours can easily be bought pre-made in a can. Now that’s convenience! Thanks, Koo, for your mild and spicey blend; now we ‘can’ too!

Whether you make your chakalaka recipe from scratch or purchase it in a can is up to you. The flavours range from mild and spicy and hot and spicy to extra hot; it seems there is a flavour to suit every palate. However, it’s how you add it to the braaibroodjie that ultimately counts.

The ultimate braaibroodjie, chakalaka style!

Are you ready to give your taste buds the zap they have been waiting for all this time? Whip up this delicious chakalaka braaibroodjie recipe for your next braai and end the night on a flavorsome high!

What you need

  • 1 loaf sliced white bread
  • 1 can chakalaka mild and spicey
  • 2 cooked peppers, sliced into chunks
  • Sliced cheese, gouda, or cheddar
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • Paprika oil

What to do

  • Divide the loaf into sandwich tops and bottoms.
  • Place two to three slices of cheese on each sandwich bottom.
  • Use a tablespoon to place a generous dollop of chakalaka on top of the cheese.
  • Add the sliced onion and pepper chunks on top of the chakalaka.
  • Close the sandwiches using the sandwich tops (bread slices) and push down firmly.
  • Brush the outside of the sandwiches with paprika oil.
  • Place the sandwiches on the braai grid and braai until they are slightly charred.

Best eaten straight from the coals while the cheese is still warm and gooey, these braaibroodjies are the perfect end to every braai. It has to be said that chakalaka and braaibroodjies are the perfect combo and a fusion of tradition and culture like no other. So, in your hurry to enjoy these tasty braai treats, don’t forget the wors and steak!

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