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Chakalaka | South African Food 

Take your taste buds on an adventure with this homemade chakalaka recipe – a spicy, savory relish that’s perfect as a condiment or side dish, and it’s also delicious on its own!

South African Relish

Chakalaka is a flavorful vegetable relish. It is a staple in South African cuisine that’s popular for its spicy, savory taste. It is made from colorful ingredients like tomato, bell peppers, onion, carrots, and chili. It is also very versatile as it can be served with nearly any meal.

What is Chakalaka?

Chakalaka is a staple south African dish made from beans, fresh veggies, onions, pepper, and tomatoes. It is a straightforward and spicy recipe. The combination of its spices really makes this dish stand out.

Interestingly, this relish pairs well with almost anything. You can serve it with bread, rice, south African pap, barbecues, custard, and braai.

Besides, it is gluten-free and vegan-friendly. You can include it in your menu no matter your diet. Whether eating it warm or cold, you will enjoy chakalaka’s delicious and traditional flavor.


If you don’t like spicy food, you can still eat chakalaka. You can reduce the spice in your own version for a mild spicy taste. More so, this recipe is flexible, so feel free to add extra veggies.

Overall, you can make it ahead because it retains its flavor for days if you refrigerate it properly. Chakalaka is a tasty option if you don’t have the time or energy to worry about dinner. Feel free to make this recipe your own. Check out more delicious South African recipes here.

A brief history of Chakalaka

First, this recipe has an interesting origin. Do you know that “Chakalaka” in the Zulu language means “put all together?” Well, I don’t think there can be any other suitable name since they combine all the ingredients in one pot to make a perfect meal.

Even though it is a common meal throughout South Africa, it originated primarily in Johannesburg. According to history, Mozambican mine workers in Johannesburg usually prepare beans, veggies, and spices to eat with putu pap. It spread from them throughout South Africa and has become one of the South African street dishes served, especially at braais (barbeques).

Why I like Chakalaka

  • One-pot and easy clean-up
  • Simple and flavorful
  • Versatile

What is Chakalaka made of?

There are different varieties of chakalaka, but this version is easy to make. It uses easy-to-get ingredients you can get at the grocery if you don’t have them. You can cook this dish anywhere in the world using the following ingredients:

  • Baked beans: The main ingredient. I used canned baked beans in tomato sauce.
  • Aromatics: The combination of onion, garlic, and ginger gives this recipe an irresistible taste and flavor.
  • Vegetables: You need red and green peppers that are deseeded and chopped. Also, I used carrots and red chili flakes. You can use green or red chilies as an alternative to chili flakes.
  • Spices: Add spices to make your chakalaka more delicious. I used curry powder in this recipe. For heat, I added cayenne pepper. You can substitute red chili flakes for cayenne pepper.
  • Tomatoes: I used fresh tomatoes, which I chopped into the pot of beans. Alternatively, you can use canned chopped tomatoes.
  • Salt and pepper: Add salt to taste.
  • Oil: Use vegetable oil or any other substitute you have.
Ingredients for making chakalaka

Chakalaka Seasoning

Let’s talk briefly about chakalaka seasoning. It is a blend of dried onion, garlic, crushed chilies, salt, spices, and red bell pepper. The powdery seasoning adds a rustic flavor to chakalaka. I used fresh ingredients in this version of chakalaka.

Since I used fresh ingredients, chakalaka seasoning became optional. Although it is worthwhile if you use it, I prefer the fresh ingredients for this recipe.

How to make Chakalaka

  • Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onions and sauté them until they become translucent.
  • After, stir in the minced garlic, ginger, and curry powder
  • Add the grated carrots, green and red pepper, and mix well, and cook for about a minute.
  • Add the diced tomatoes. Stir to combine, cover, and cook over low heat for about 5 to 10 mins or till the mixture is thick but still moist.
  • Stir in the baked beans and leave to simmer for another 5 minutes.

Is Chakalaka a Salad, soup, or condiment?

Firstly, I want you to know that chakalaka being a relish or condiment, is controversial. Specifically, we cannot put it in a category because it takes on different roles at different times.

Depending on the occasion, it can serve as salsa, the main course, a condiment, or a relish. To clarify, the way you cook the recipe will determine the category.

For instance, if you use more veggies, it will look like a salad. On the other hand, if it has more tomato sauce, it will be soup-like. In this case, the texture depends on the amount of veggies or tomato sauce you use.

How long does Chakalaka last in the fridge?

You can keep it in an airtight jar and store it in the refrigerator. It will last up to 5 days without losing taste. Also, you can make it ahead in batches and store it in the freezer.

Cooking Tips

  • Adjust the heat to mild or high to suit your taste and preferences. You can make chakalaka without chili flakes if you want.

How to serve Chakalaka

This recipe is versatile. It can go with almost anything. Pair it with the following:

Other Recipes you will like:


Chakalaka – South African Dish

Chakalaka is a traditional South African vegetable relish that is spicy, tangy, and full of flavor. Here is how you can make it at home.
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Breakfast, Brunch
Cuisine: South African
Keyword: Beans, Chakalaka
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 196.4kcal


  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 red onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1/2 inch ginger finely grated
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 red pepper deseeded and chopped
  • 1 green pepper deseeded and chopped
  • 4 carrots medium size [peeled and grated]
  • 14 ounce canned tomatoes or 4 large ripe tomatoes – chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼-½ teaspoon red chili flakes or fresh red or green chili deseeded and chopped.
  • 15 ounce baked beans in tomato sauce


  • Heat the oil in a large pan, over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté them until they become translucent.
  • Stir in the minced garlic, ginger, and curry powder and cook for another one minute.
  • Add the grated carrots, chopped green and red pepper, and mix well and cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the diced tomatoes, red chili flakes (if using) and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine, cover, and cook over low heat for about 5 to 10 mins or till the mixture is thick but still moist. Stir occasionally to prevent the vegetables from sticking to the pan.
  • Stir in the baked beans and leave to simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Serve your homemade Chakalaka warm with bread, rice, or grilled meat.


  • Adjust the heat to mild or high to suit your taste and preferences. You can make chakalaka without chili flakes if you want.
  • Feel free to add more veggies to your preferences, like cabbage, zucchini, corn, and so on.


Calories: 196.4kcal | Carbohydrates: 27.7g | Protein: 5.9g | Fat: 8.6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 413mg | Potassium: 666.6mg | Fiber: 7.7g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 7662.1IU | Vitamin C: 53.2mg | Calcium: 87.3mg | Iron: 2.6mg

Let’s Connect! You can find me on Facebook, and Instagram. I love keeping in touch with all of you! If you make this recipe, I’d love to see pictures of your creations on Instagram or Facebook. #cheflolaskitchen

Recipe Rating

Friday 6th of October 2023

I made it!!! it with plainly toasted bread. Not so much with rice though. I never got to try it with corn meal. I made mine more saucelike. I added goat meat and it's broth.

Chef Lola's Kitchen

Sunday 15th of October 2023

Glad you made it your own and it came out nice.


Sunday 13th of August 2023

Hi there,

I see red/green peppers in the ingredients but I don’t see them anywhere in the recipe instructions. Add with onions or with carrots? Can’t wait to make. I’m not fond of beans so this might change my mind

Chef Lola's Kitchen

Saturday 26th of August 2023

Sorry about the omission, I have updated it. Add it with the carrots.


Monday 31st of July 2023

Are the red and green peppers sauted together with the onions?

Chef Lola's Kitchen

Saturday 26th of August 2023

You add it in when you are adding the carrot. Sorry for the omission,Rindy. I have updated it.


Sunday 16th of July 2023

You put in the recipe one can of beans in tomato sauce. And one can of baked beans. So does that mean you used two cans of beans? And are they 14 to 15 ounce cans each? And if you use the canned tomatoes do you drain the liquid?

Lola Osinkolu

Monday 17th of July 2023

Hey Tiffany, thanks for your comment! Just to clear up any confusion, I actually used one can of beans in tomato sauce for this recipe. I've gone ahead and made sure the instructions reflect that. If you decide to use canned tomatoes in sauce instead, there's no need to bother with draining - just toss them right in.

Monday 20th of March 2023

This sounds great. I'll be making for an International Missionary dinner. The recipe shows a can of baked beans AND a can of baked beans in tomato sauce. Is this correct? Also if I would like to use the fresh tomatoes. Are there any other directions? In your comment you mentioned that you added them to the baked beans. Will I need to also use the canned chopped tomatoes. Thank you for your help. DG