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Discover How to Make Chakalaka – Your Ultimate Guide!

by | Nov 21, 2023 | How To

Welcome to your ultimate guide on how to make chakalaka, a versatile and flavorful South African dish! Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a beginner in the kitchen, this step-by-step recipe will help you create a delicious homemade chakalaka that will impress your taste buds.

Key Takeaways:

  • Chakalaka is a popular and spicy South African dish known for its vibrant flavors.
  • The main ingredients of chakalaka include vegetables, spices, and beans.
  • Chakalaka can be enjoyed as a main course, side dish, or condiment.
  • Customize your chakalaka by adding your favorite spices and vegetables.
  • Make a large batch of chakalaka to enjoy it over several days or freeze it for future use.

What is Chakalaka and Why is it Popular?

Chakalaka is a popular dish in Southern Africa known for its spicy and vibrant flavors. It is a traditional South African recipe that has gained popularity not only in its home country but also internationally. This flavorful dish is beloved for its unique combination of ingredients and versatile uses.

The key ingredients in chakalaka include chilies, bell peppers, beans, corn, tomatoes, onions, and garlic, along with a blend of spices such as cayenne pepper, paprika, garam masala, cumin, and cilantro. The combination of these ingredients creates a spicy kick and a variety of textures that make chakalaka a favorite among both meat lovers and vegetarians.

Chakalaka can be enjoyed in various ways. It is often served as a side dish or relish, complementing grilled meats, seafood, nachos, flatbreads, burgers, sandwiches, baked potatoes, and even scrambled eggs. The versatility of chakalaka allows it to be incorporated into different cuisines and dishes, making it a versatile and sought-after condiment.

Why is Chakalaka So Popular?

There are several reasons why chakalaka has gained such popularity over the years:

  • Flavorful and Spicy: Chakalaka packs a punch of bold and vibrant flavors, making it an exciting addition to any meal.
  • Vegetarian-Friendly: With its abundance of vegetables and beans, chakalaka can be enjoyed by vegetarians and vegans as a hearty and satisfying dish.
  • Cultural Significance: Chakalaka is deeply rooted in South African culture and is often served during celebrations and gatherings. Its popularity extends beyond the culinary realm and symbolizes unity and togetherness.
  • Adaptability: Chakalaka can be customized according to personal preferences and tastes. It can be made milder or spicier, and additional vegetables or spices can be added to create unique variations.

South African chakalaka

Overall, the popularity of chakalaka can be attributed to its rich flavors, cultural significance, and adaptability. Whether served as a main course, side dish, or condiment, chakalaka is a delicious addition to any culinary adventure.

The Ingredients and Cooking Process of Chakalaka

If you’re ready to embark on a flavorful culinary journey, let’s dive into the world of chakalaka. This versatile South African dish is known for its bold and spicy flavors that will leave your taste buds begging for more. To create this delectable dish, you’ll need a variety of ingredients and follow a simple cooking process.

Chakalaka Sauce: The Heart of the Dish

The key to a delicious chakalaka lies in its sauce. This rich and flavorful base is made by sautéing onions, garlic, and chilies in butter. As the aroma fills your kitchen, you’ll add a combination of spices, including cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin, and garam masala. These spices give chakalaka its distinct taste and a hint of heat.

Once the sauce is well-infused with spices, it’s time to add the star ingredients—tomatoes, bell peppers, and carrots. These vegetables bring color, texture, and a delightful sweetness to the dish. Simmer the sauce until the vegetables are tender and all the flavors have melded together into a harmonious blend.

Adding Beans and Sweet Corn

To give chakalaka its hearty and satisfying nature, it’s common to add a variety of beans and sweet corn. Borlotti beans, cannellini beans, and black beans work wonderfully, providing a creamy texture and absorbing the flavors of the sauce. Alongside the beans, sweet corn brings a burst of freshness and a subtle sweetness to balance out the spice.

Finally, season the chakalaka with salt, sugar, and a squeeze of lime juice to enhance the flavors. Allow the dish to simmer a little longer, ensuring that all the ingredients are tender and well-incorporated. Once the cooking process is complete, serve your homemade chakalaka warm and watch as it becomes the star of any meal.

Ingredients Quantity
Onions 2 large
Garlic 4 cloves
Chilies 2-3 bird’s eye chilies
Butter 2 tablespoons
Carrots 2 large
Tomatoes 4 large
Bell Peppers 2 large
Salt To taste
Sugar 1 teaspoon
Cayenne Pepper 1 teaspoon
Paprika 1 teaspoon
Cumin 1 teaspoon
Garam Masala 1 teaspoon
Borlotti Beans 1 can
Cannellini Beans 1 can
Black Beans 1 can
Sweet Corn 1 can
Lime Juice 1 tablespoon

Chakalaka – A Versatile Condiment and Side Dish

Chakalaka is not just limited to being a main course dish; it can also be used as a versatile condiment or side dish. Its tangy and spicy flavors make it a perfect accompaniment to grilled meats, barbecues, and stews. You can even enjoy it with bread or add it to sandwiches for an extra burst of flavor. Whether you’re a meat lover or a vegetarian, chakalaka adds a unique twist to any meal and enhances the taste of other dishes.

One popular way to use chakalaka is as a relish or salsa. Its vibrant colors and bold flavors make it an ideal topping for nachos, tacos, and burgers. You can also serve it alongside traditional South African dishes like pap and boerewors. The combination of spicy chakalaka and creamy pap creates a mouthwatering experience that will leave you craving for more.

If you’re looking for a traditional chakalaka recipe, you can find several variations that have been passed down through generations. These recipes often include a combination of vegetables like onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, and carrots, along with a range of spices that give chakalaka its signature kick. The exact ingredients and proportions may vary, but the result is always a delicious and satisfying relish that can be enjoyed in many ways.

To give you a better idea of the versatility of chakalaka as a condiment and side dish, here is a table showcasing some of the popular ways it can be used:

Usage Description
Grilled Meats Chakalaka adds a spicy and tangy flavor to grilled meats such as chicken, beef, and lamb.
Barbecues It can be served as a condiment alongside barbecued meats, adding an extra layer of flavor to the meal.
Stews Chakalaka can be stirred into stews to give them a rich and spicy taste. It complements both meat and vegetable stews.
Sandwiches Spread chakalaka on bread or rolls to give your sandwiches a South African twist. It pairs well with cold cuts or grilled fillings.
Burger Toppings Use chakalaka as a topping for burgers to add a burst of flavor and spice. It complements both meat and vegetarian burgers.
Nachos Chakalaka can be used as a salsa for nachos, adding a tangy and spicy kick to this popular snack.

As you can see, chakalaka is a versatile condiment and side dish that can elevate the taste of any meal. Whether you’re hosting a barbecue, enjoying a cozy stew, or simply want to spice up your sandwiches, chakalaka is the perfect accompaniment. So go ahead, add a dollop of this flavorful relish to your next meal and savor the unique taste of South Africa.

Tips and Variations for Making the Best Chakalaka

When it comes to making chakalaka, the possibilities for customization are endless. Here are some tips and variations to help you create the best homemade chakalaka:

1. Experiment with Different Spices

While the traditional chakalaka recipe calls for spices like cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin, and cilantro, don’t be afraid to get creative and try out new flavors. Add a pinch of turmeric for a subtle earthy taste or sprinkle in some ground coriander for a fragrant twist. These spices can elevate the flavors of your chakalaka and give it a unique touch.

2. Mix in Additional Vegetables

While chakalaka typically includes ingredients like onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots, and beans, you can add your favorite vegetables to enhance the dish. Consider adding zucchini, butternut squash, or spinach for added texture and nutrients. Just make sure to chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces to ensure even cooking.

3. Adjust the Heat Level

If you prefer a milder chakalaka, you can easily customize the heat level by deseeding the chili peppers. Removing the seeds will help reduce the spiciness while still retaining the flavor. However, if you’re a fan of bold and fiery flavors, feel free to keep the seeds and even add extra chilies to kick up the heat.

Remember, the beauty of making chakalaka lies in its flexibility. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different spices, vegetables, and heat levels to create a chakalaka recipe that suits your taste buds perfectly.

Variation Ingredients Instructions
Spicy Chakalaka Extra hot chili peppers, cayenne pepper Increase the amount of chili peppers and add extra cayenne pepper for an extra spicy kick.
Vegetarian Chakalaka Mixed beans, mushrooms Replace the meat-based ingredients with mixed beans and sautéd mushrooms for a hearty vegetarian version.
Sweet and Tangy Chakalaka Pineapple chunks, apple cider vinegar Add pineapple chunks and a splash of apple cider vinegar for a sweet and tangy twist.
Smoky Chakalaka Smoked paprika, chipotle peppers Infuse a smoky flavor by using smoked paprika and adding chipotle peppers to the mix.

By exploring different spices, vegetables, and heat levels, you can create a chakalaka recipe that reflects your culinary preferences and elevates your dining experience.

How to Make Chakalaka – Step by Step Guide

Are you ready to embark on a culinary adventure and create your own mouthwatering chakalaka? Follow this step-by-step guide to make a delicious batch of chakalaka that will impress your taste buds and elevate your meals.

Gather Your Ingredients

Before you start, make sure you have all the necessary ingredients at hand. Refer to the previous section for a detailed list. Once you have everything ready, let’s get cooking!

Step 1: Sauté the Onions

Heat a large pot or skillet over medium heat and melt some butter. Add the chopped onions and sauté them until they become translucent and slightly caramelized. This will help develop a rich flavor base for your chakalaka. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.

Step 2: Add Garlic, Carrots, and Spices

Next, add the minced garlic, grated carrots, and your choice of spices. You can be generous with the spices to achieve a flavorful kick. Stir everything together and let the mixture cook for a few minutes until fragrant.

Step 3: Simmer with Tomatoes and Bell Peppers

Add the diced tomatoes and sliced bell peppers to the pot. Stir well to combine all the ingredients. Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the flavors have melded together.

Step 4: Add Beans and Sweetcorn

Once the vegetables are cooked, it’s time to add the beans and sweetcorn. Drain and rinse the beans before adding them to the pot. Stir in the sweetcorn as well. Continue simmering for another 5-10 minutes to allow the flavors to infuse.

Step 5: Season and Serve

Taste your chakalaka and adjust the seasoning according to your preference. You can add a touch of salt, more spices, or even a squeeze of lime juice for a zesty finish. Once you’re satisfied with the taste, remove the chakalaka from the heat and let it cool slightly before serving.

Now, your homemade chakalaka is ready to be enjoyed! Serve it warm as a side dish, relish, or condiment alongside your favorite grilled meats, stews, or sandwiches. The spicy and flavorful combination will surely add excitement to your meal. Bon appétit!


Making chakalaka at home is a truly rewarding experience. This South African dish, with its vibrant flavors and versatile nature, is sure to spice up your dining experience. By following the step-by-step guide provided in this article, you now have all the knowledge you need to create your own delicious chakalaka.

Whether you decide to enjoy it as a main course, a condiment, or a side dish, chakalaka will undoubtedly add a touch of excitement to your meals. Its tangy and spicy flavors are a perfect complement to a variety of dishes, making it a favorite among food lovers.

So, gather your ingredients and get ready to embark on a culinary adventure. With this chakalaka recipe in your hands, you can now bring the flavors of South Africa to your own kitchen. Don’t hesitate to experiment with different variations and make it your own. Get ready to savor every bite of your homemade chakalaka!


What is chakalaka?

Chakalaka is a versatile and flavorful South African dish made with a combination of vegetables, spices, and beans. It can be enjoyed as a main course, side dish, or condiment.

What are the ingredients for making chakalaka?

The ingredients for making chakalaka include bird’s eye chilies, onions, butter, garlic, carrots, tomatoes, bell peppers, salt, sugar, cayenne pepper, black pepper, paprika, cilantro, cumin, garam masala, borlotti beans, cannellini beans, black beans, sweet corn, water, and lime juice.

How do you make chakalaka?

To make chakalaka, you sauté onions in butter, then add garlic, carrots, chilies, and spices. Stir in tomatoes, bell peppers, water, and simmer until the vegetables are tender. Finally, add the beans and sweetcorn, adjust the seasoning, and stir in lime juice.

How can I use chakalaka?

Chakalaka can be used as a main course, condiment, or side dish. It pairs well with grilled meats, barbecues, stews, and can be enjoyed with bread or added to sandwiches.

Can I make variations to the chakalaka recipe?

Yes, you can experiment with different spices like turmeric, cumin, and ground coriander, or mix in additional vegetables to create your own unique variations.

Can I freeze chakalaka?

Yes, it is recommended to make a large batch of chakalaka so that you can enjoy it over several days or freeze it for future use.

How can I enhance the flavor of chakalaka?

To enhance the flavor of your chakalaka, you can add a little bouillon powder or vinegar to the mixture. If you prefer a milder version, deseed the chili peppers.