Chakalaka recipe from South Africa

Chakalaka recipe from South Africa

Chakalaka recipe from South Africa

This Chakalaka recipe in its present form probably originated in the kitchens of the townships and mining settlements in and around Johannesburg South Africa. The dish is still quite new. It is said that it originated in the hostels where the men in the townships lived. This is where the miners who worked in the gold mines around Johannesburg lived. They are said to have diced their ingredients together to cook a vegetable stew. They also served corn "pap", a porridge made from corn. This one is also known as Mielie Pap. The workers in the hostels had little money to spend. Therefore, there were no solid ingredients for the dish. The recipe can therefore also be used well for recycling leftovers.

Where does the Chakalaka dish come from?

It is not known exactly where the name came from. Some say it comes from the Bantu language Setswana. Others say it means "quick and tasty". Others think it comes from the Zulu language and means something like "something that was hacked together". Still others claim it comes from Fanagalo, the language of the miners around Johannesburg. There are also versions that differ in spelling. One reads Chakka Lakka as well as Shakalaka. However, the name Chakalaka has spread internationally. I have also read about a Tschakka Lakka recipe. The Chakalaka dish definitely comes from the kitchens of the workers in the townships of South Africa. It's a type of vegetable stew traditionally served with barbecues and braais (barbecues) is served.



Is there an original Chakalaka recipe?

Nobody in particular invented it, it was created from a combination of different African cuisines and European influences. Ingredients vary by region and taste, but typical ingredients include onions, peppers, carrots, tomatoes, and beans. There are also spices such as cumin, paprika powder and ginger.

You keep reading about the Chakalaka recipe in its original version. However, these do not exist. Because the dish was created from what was in stock in the kitchen at the time. Therefore, the preparation is diverse. Depending on what the workers had available, they added onions, carrots, potatoes, peppers, cabbage, garlic, chili, and curry powder. There was also ginger or coriander sometimes. Today you can even do one Buy spice mix for Chakalaka *. Originally you spiced it up with what was available at the time. Because curry has been widely used, some believe that chakalaka is inspired by the curries used in Asian cuisines. This is how some see the origin of the dish in the Indo-Malay region.

However, if the origin of the name from the Bantu language is correct, the Chakalaka recipe could also come from the kitchens of Botswana. A thick sauce made from tomatoes and onions is still made there today.

Chakalaka eat in restaurants

Chakalaka is usually served warm and goes perfectly with it grilled, but also with rice, bread or potatoes. In South Africa you can find it in almost every restaurant, but also in the markets and in the street stalls of the cities. Today the Chakalaka recipe is common as a sauce, soup or stew. In the shebeens, the pubs in the townships, it is often served as an ingredient with poultry, lamb, rice or corn porridge. It also tastes good with Boerewors, a type of sausage that is on the menu in many South African restaurants. Chakalaka is usually spicy. That's why they often add amasi, a kind of sour sour milk that's very popular in Africa. Chakalaka is a popular dish among locals and tourists alike.

Chakalaka is not as well known in Europe as it is in Africa, but there are a few restaurants and takeaways that have it on the menu. You can find it especially in big cities like London or Berlin, where there are many South African immigrants.

African Chakalaka in the Shebeens of South Africa

In the Shebeens I got to know African Chakalaka on my travels through South Africa. Chakalaka with Boerewors is one of my favorite South African dishes. In combination with the coarse sausage, the vegetable sauce tastes fresh. I liked it best with Mielie Pap or with mashed potatoes. So I like to cook the dish at home. Chakalaka, for example, can be done well in one Dutch Oven the Camping or on campfire prepare. You can also find Dutch oven accessories you can also find here.


Chakalaka with boerewors
Chakalaka with Boerewors © Copyright Kai Hendry, Flickr CC BY 2.0


Ingredients for our recipe for Chakalaka (8 servings)

  • an onion
  • a clove of garlic
  • three carrots
  • one red pepper and one each
  • green pepper
  • half a head of white cabbage
  • six tablespoons of oil
  • a tablespoon of salt
  • five tablespoons of chakalaka spice
  • 150 grams of green peas
  • 400 grams of chunky tomatoes in a can
  • 400 grams of white beans
  • a tablespoon of sugar
  • Salt at will



Preparing the recipe for Chakalaka from South Africa

First, finely chop the onion and garlic.

Wash the vegetables and remove the cores from the peppers. Clean the carrots and cut the stalk from the white cabbage. Cut the vegetables into small cubes or thin strips.

Add half of the oil to the cabbage and salt it. Knead the cabbage well and then let it steep for a few minutes.

Put the oil in one pan and fry the chopped onions and garlic cloves in it.

Add the bell peppers and let everything simmer for ten minutes.

Add the Chakalaka spice and then stir the vegetables well.

Add the cabbage, carrots, and peas to the vegetable mixture. Add the diced tomatoes and the beans. Season with sugar and mix the vegetables well.

Let the vegetable mixture simmer for about 20 minutes and finally season with salt. If you want it to be particularly spicy, you can add some chili powder.

The Chakalaka recipe from South Africa is traditionally served with corn porridge. But it also goes well with rice or mashed potatoes, coarse sausages or poultry, lamb or ribs.


South African recipes

Find more Recipes from South Africa you can also find here.


Chakalaka recipes
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Besides, do you know?

Source: own research on site. My opinion is definitely my own.

Text Chakalaka Recipe: © Copyright Monika Fuchs and TravelWorldOnline
Photos Chakalaka recipe: © see caption

Chakalaka recipe from South Africa

Monika Fuchs

Monika Fuchs and Petar Fuchs are the authors and publishers of the Food and Slow Travel blog  TravelWorldOnline. They have been publishing this blog since 2005. TravelWorldOnline has been online since 2001. Their topics are trips to Savor, wine tourism worldwide and slow travel. During her studies Monika Fuchs spent some time in North America, where she - partly together with Petar Fuchs - traveled to the USA and Canada and spent a research year in British Columbia. This intensified her thirst for knowledge, which she satisfied for 6 years as an adventure guide for Rotel Tours and then for 11 years as a tour guide for Studiosus Reisen around the world. She was constantly expanding her travel regions, but curiosity still gnawed at her: "What's beyond the horizon? What else is there to discover in this city? Which people are interesting here? What do they eat in this region?" As a freelance travel journalist (her articles have appeared in DIE ZEIT, 360° Canada, 360° USA, etc.), she is now looking for answers to these questions as a travel writer and travel blogger in many countries around the world. Petar Fuchs produces the videos on this blog as well as on YouTube. Monika Fuchs from TravelWorldOnline is among Germany's top 50 bloggers in 2021. Find more Information about Monika and Petar Fuchs here.