Africa has some of the most delicious, cooked salad recipes. There is Abacha from Nigeria, Taktouka from Morocco; and of course, Chakalaka from South Africa.
South African Chakalaka is warm dish which is bursting with flavours. It is prepared with vegetables, beans and spices which come together quite well for an amazing taste. This spicy South African side dish is traditionally served with pap or grilled meat; and is sometimes served as part of Sunday lunch, popularly known as “Sunday kos” or “Seven colours” in South Africa. Wikipedia explains the origin of this relish.
Chakalaka is great served cold as a side salad for roast meat at barbecues in the summer or served hot with bread, rice or mashed potatoes in the winter. It tastes even better the next day, so make sure you make more than you need on the day and keep the left over in the fridge. Chakalaka will last in the fridge for about three days but will last for weeks in the freezer.
Like most foods, everyone has their own twist to this South African recipe. Some add vinegar for more tangy taste; and a lot of the Chakalaka recipes I saw included baked beans. I have never liked baked as I find it too sweet. The sweetness from the tomatoes and the other vegetables was just enough for me; so, I used black beans instead.
How To Make Chakalaka
This South African relish is so easy to make. The hardest part I would say is preparing the vegetables.
This dish is traditionally spicy, but you can adjust the quantity of chilli based on your heat tolerance. You can also use other chilli/pepper types depending on what is available. Same applies for beans, you can use baked beans or whichever beans you have.
The key to a great Chakalaka recipe is to allow the vegetables to soften, while still retaining some crunchiness. This takes some time, which is great, as this allows the delectable flavours associated with this dish to develop. It takes me around 30 mins to get from the point of adding all the vegetables to the pan to the point where the vegetables have the perfect texture. How long this takes is determined by the size of pot you use too; so make sure to taste your Chakalaka occasionally, while cooking.
It is also important to stir occasionally as the liquid reduces and the vegetables become soft, to prevent sticking.
Here’s what you need to make Chakalaka.
Prepare the ingredients. Heat the onion in a pan and stir occasionally to prevent burning. Do this until the onions become translucent.
Add the garlic, ginger and curry powder and continue to stir to prevent burning, while the flavour develops. Do this for about 30 secs.
Pour the of the remaining ingredients into the pan and add some salt to taste. You will start out with a very full pan, if you are using a small one like me. Mix with a wooden spoon so that all the vegetables are coated with the spices. Cover the pan and allow to cook.
Stir the content of the pot occasionally to prevent sticking. Also, check the salt and add more if needed. When the vegetables become quite soft, but still crunchy; remove from heat.
Other great cooked salad to try are;
South African Chakalaka
- 1 medium Onion chopped
- 3 cloves Garlic chopped
- 1 teaspoon Grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon Curry Powder
- 4 Bird eye chilli chopped
- 1 can Chopped tomatoes or 3 medium, chopped
- ½ head Cabbage medium, sliced
- 1 Green Pepper sliced
- 1 Yellow Pepper sliced
- 2 medium Carrots grated
- 1 can Black Beans drained and rinsed
- Thyme a few sprigs
- Salt – to taste to taste
- Heat the oil in a pan and add the onions. Allow to cook until translucent
- Add the garlic, curry powder and ginger. Stir for 30 secs.
- Add in all the other ingredients with some salt. Stir with a wooden spoon so the ingredients are coated with the spices already in the pan. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and allow to cook.
- Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
- Allow to cook until all the vegetables are soft, but still slightly crunchy.
- Remove from heat.