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A modern South African chakalaka recipe

By February 10, 2023July 3rd, 2023FinGlobal

A modern South African chakalaka recipe

February 10, 2023

Chakalaka, pronounced chuck-a-luck-a, has got to be one of the most authentic South African dishes you will ever have the pleasure of tasting! Who can say they haven’t enjoyed a boerie roll topped with delicious chakalaka relish?

Picture the scene. A warm crusty bread roll oozing with melted butter, stuffed with meaty boerewors and lashings of tomato and onion relish, yum! Of course, you may suffer a wardrobe meltdown as dribbles of relish drip down your shirt front while munching on this veritable heaven-sent manna! But that’s a risk most Saffas are willing to take when feasting on simple chakalaka ingredients.

And you’re bound to agree if you’ve found yourself begging the street food vendor for their secret tips on how to make chakalaka the traditional way!

What is chakalaka?

This spicy dish or relish depending on whether you prefer to eat your lekker chakalaka as a main, side serving or condiment, is a divine concoction of spices, onions, tomatoes, beans and chillies. Such is its simple tastiness that most self-respecting Saffa households view chakalaka as a mandatory braai side, and it is often associated with delectable South African street food.

Origins of the South African chakalaka recipe

Urban legend says that the spice-imbued South African chakalaka recipe was created on the slopes of the Johannesburg gold mines. After a long shift searching for gold beneath the earth’s crust, hungry mineworkers would cook beans and tomatoes with chilli drizzled over a generous portion of stiff pap. What a perfect way to end a long day!

How to make chakalaka

A simple South African chakalaka recipe should include the following basic ingredients:

  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Sliced onions
  • Curry powder (containing Tumeric and Cumin)
  • Fresh chillies or chilli pepper

And the ultimate final ingredient, a can of baked beans in tomato sauce! Obviously, it has to be Koo baked beans and if you’re wondering why it’s because they can!

Modern chakalaka recipe

Of course, as with most South African recipes, the chakalaka recipe has many variations; some even include butternut, cabbage and garlic. Could the chakalaka recipe get any better? Possibly! Take a peek at this broccoli and cauliflower chakalaka recipe we discovered while investigating the wonders of South African chakalaka recipes! This modern recipe turns a simple relish into a lip-smacking main meal and is a great way to top up on your five-a-day!

Broccoli and cauliflower chakalaka

What you need

  • 1 tin baked beans in tomato sauce
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 250 g carrots peeled and grated
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 2 green chillies finely sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves crushed
  • 3 peppers sliced
  • 250 g cauliflower florets par-cooked
  • 250 g broccoli florets par-cooked
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp Piri-Piri spice
  • 2 tbsp medium curry powder
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 2 tbsp Mrs. Balls Chutney (optional)
  • Medium piece of fresh ginger finely grated (optional)
  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil

What to do

  • Brown the diced onion in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • When the onions are soft, stir in the chillies, garlic and half the ginger (if using). Allow the mixture to simmer for about 2 minutes before adding the curry powder.
  • Stir well to create a curry paste; if the mixture is too dry, add a small amount of water to prevent it from burning.
  • Next, add the pepper and cook for approximately 3 minutes before adding the carrots, broccoli and cauliflower. Ensure the vegetables are thoroughly coated in curry paste.
  • Now add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, Piri-Piri spice, chutney (if using) and thyme, stir well and allow to simmer for 1 minute.
  • Lastly, stir in the baked beans. Half-fill the empty bean can with water and add this to the chakalaka ingredients.
  • Turn down the heat and allow the chakalaka to cook at a low temperature for about 10 to 15 minutes. When ready, the mixture will have thickened, and the vegetables will be tender.
  • Finally, add the remaining ginger (if using) and season to your preferred taste with salt, pepper or Aromat.
  • Serve hot or cold over warm mielie meal pap with a sprinkling of freshly chopped coriander.

Final chaka-lekker thoughts

Before you go, here are some chakalaka facts to keep you entertained when next you indulge in a scrumptious South African chakalaka recipe.

  • Chakalaka is a Zulu word that means ‘all together’ – makes sense!
  • Chakalaka is vegetarian and vegan-friendly – unless you add meat.
  • Chakalaka can be eaten alongside meat or seafood.
  • You can add any vegetable you prefer, including mushrooms and peas.
  • Different beans can be used instead of baked beans; try lentils, chickpeas or lima beans!
  • For a meaty twist, you can add bacon bits or sausages (smoky chorizo).
  • Chakalaka without the spices is still chakalaka, just milder, so ditch the heat if you prefer!

These modern twists on the traditional chakalaka recipe are so versatile. Serve them over sticky rice or alongside a dainty salad and succulent servings of sizzling braai meat. Alternatively, go the simple route and dip chunks of hot crusty bread into a bowl of thick chaka-licious chakalaka; it’s bound to be worthy of licking your dinner plate either way!

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