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A vibrant mix of fresh vegetables and beans, spiced with a homemade curry blend. It's a perfect side dish for a braai or as a main with pap, the traditional porridge.


1 onion (large, peeled and finely chopped)
3 clv garlic (peeled and minced)
2 bell pepper (1 red, 1 green, rinsed and diced)
2 carrot (peeled and grated)
2 chili pepper (or to taste, fresh, rinsed and finely chopped)
1 cn beans (baked beans in tomato sauce)
1 t curry (or to taste, curry powder)
1⁄2 t paprika
1⁄4 t turmeric (powder)
1 t thyme (optional, fresh thyme leaves)
  seasoning (salt and pepper to taste)


Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and sauté until the onions are translucent.

Add the green and red bell peppers, and cook for about 5 minutes until they start to soften.

Stir in the grated carrots and cook for another 3 minutes.

Add the diced tomatoes and chili peppers, and cook for about 5 minutes, until the tomatoes break down into a sauce.

Stir in the baked beans, curry powder, paprika, turmeric, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.

Reduce the heat to low and let the chakalaka simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. The chakalaka should be flavorful with a balance of spicy, sweet, and tangy.

Total time
1 hour
Cooking time
Preparation time
4 servings


Serve the chakalaka warm as a side dish with grilled meats or with pap. It can also be enjoyed as a standalone dish with crusty bread.

Chakalaka is actually one of those dishes that can taste even better the next day after the flavors have had more time to meld together. 

It can be stored, once cooled to room temperature, in an airtight container, 3-5 days in the fridge, 2-3 months in the freezer. It is better to thaw frozen chakalaka before reheating.


For a heartier version, add diced butternut squash or sweet potatoes.

Stir in chopped spinach or kale for added greens.

For extra protein, include chickpeas or lentils.

Adjust the heat by using mild curry powder or adding more chili peppers.


South African cuisine

Chakalaka was developed by men working in the gold mines of Johannesburg; they combined vegetables with curry spices to create a meal that was both filling and easy to prepare. The dish has since become a staple at South African braais.

vegetables, relish
frying, side dish
South African food recipes
Food in Africa