Chakalaka…Say What?!?!

It’s pronounced just the way it is spelt Cha-ka-la-ka! Chakalaka is a uniquely South African dish that has been adopted by other Southern African countries. The exact origins of the dish are a little unclear, some say it originated in the townships of Johannesburg while others would argue that it originated in the mineral mines of South Africa. It was actually mentioned on House Wives of Atlanta (I know, I know…it is one of my guilty pleasures) a few weeks ago when the crazies, I mean ladies, were visiting South Africa. Naturally, hearing the word on the show lead to a craving.
In Botswana Chakalaka is a staple side at braai’s (barbecues). My mouth is watering just thinking of it! A plate of potato salad, chakalaka, braaid meat and boerewors (South African sausage). Chakalaka is not only a great side dish, it can also be consumed as the main course for a vegetarian meal. The dish goes well with mealie meal (palache, sadza, ugali), rice, boiled plantains and even roti.
Growing up in Botswana, we never made Chakalaka from scratch. We simply combined vegetarian baked beans in tomato sauce with a pickled product called Atchar and voila you had Chakalaka!


With neither of these ingredients on hand, I searched the web for a more involved recipe.  After viewing several different recipe variations, I settled on The African Pot’s version.  This is so easy to make and so delicious. I can’t wait for the summer so that I can to serve it up at a braai/barbecue. Today I served mine with some boiled plantains.

Oil for sautéing
½ a large onion chopped (TAP’s recipe calls for 1 large onion, roughly cut)
3 cloves garlic chopped
2 tsp grated fresh ginger (can use 1 tsp instead)
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 small cabbage head, shredded
2 medium carrots, grated
3 ripe medium tomatoes chopped
1 tablespoon masala (or curry powder)
½ scotch bonnet pepper finely chopped , seeds removed (TAP uses 1/4 teaspoon peri peri powder)                                      
½  teaspoon coriander powder  
1 can vegetarian baked beans in tomato sauce
½ teaspoon salt
Heat oil in sauce pan
Sauté onions and garlic until onions are translucent
Add the ginger and sauté for another 2 minutes
Add the coriander, salt, and curry powder and continue sautéing
Add the pepper/peri peri powder, cabbage, green peppers, carrots and mix well
Add the tomatoes and allow the entire mixture to simmer gently for about 5 minutes
Add a quarter cup of water if needed
Add the baked beans and allow to simmer until beans are heated through
Serve hot and enjoy! 

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