Chakalaka recipe

To many South Africans this is relatively a simple recipe. When I started this blog my mission was to educate whilst demystifying food and complex food trends. Over the years I’ve subsequently come to realise that even the simple stuff is complex to some people out there. We all have different levels of cooking prowess (or lack thereof) and going out to people’s houses has made me realise that even the most confident person who claims to be a culinary genius can make bad food! So many people confidently say they can make awesome things but then I end up disappointed by the final product. Chakalaka is one of those things. Everyone claims to have an awesome recipe but very few have the depth and flavour a good chakalaka should have.


Ok, so what is chakalaka? I’ve tried to do some research to find out its roots but there really isn’t that much info out there as to its origins. In culinary terms it’s a relish or “ragout” if I use the French culinary term. South African in origin and my gut feeling is that it’s a township creation as I don’t remember having it as a kid until it became popular in the 90’s. Why I say I think it’s a township creation is because it makes use of curry powders and canned beans, modern additions to African food these days. We love it with braai’s, pap and days out in the park and on picnics. I love it in burgers as well. I prefer my chakalaka to be a bit hot and have a kick to it but you can tone the heat down if you’re not a fan of hot food. I prefer using butter in my recipe rather than oil because of the depth in flavour it offers. (to peel a tomato make an “x” incision on one side and put it in boiling water for a few minutes and then in ice cold water. The skin should fall away with a gentle tug)I


  • 125g Butter
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • 4 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red pepper, de-seeded and chopped
  • 1 green pepper, de-seeded and chopped
  • 1 tin quality baked beans in tomato sauce
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 cup raw sweet corn kernels
  • 2 teaspoons fine chopped red chillies
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon good quality masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander spice
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

1. Heat a large frying pan and place the butter in it, once the butter has melted add the onions and saute them until they become translucent
2. Add all the other ingredients except the baked beans and cook over a low heat for about 15 minutes before adding the baked beans.
3. Stir occasionally and cook for a further 15 minutes until thick but still moist.

That’s it! Simple as that.

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