A simple vegan recipe that delivers amazingly delicious South African Chakalaka everytime!
I first tasted Chakalaka in 2013 during a trip to South Africa. I was on a day trip to Soweto and had already had a morning full of activities. By lunch time, I was accompanied by my trip guide to a local restaurant. One that came highly recommended, and full of promise of an authentic South African culinary experience.
Authentic culinary experiences rank high on my priorities list. “when in Rome, behave like the Romans” – is a favourite mantra, and one that I take quite seriously. Because there are only a few things in life more pleasurable than soaking in a foreign culture through food.
With Chakala, it was love at first taste!
To some, chakalaka is a salad. To others, it is a spicy veggie relish. To me, it is reminiscent of a curried ratatouille with beans. Spicy, tangy, and full of flavours that literally jump off the plate. Chakalaka was born in the townships of South Africa and the original recipe is something close to a dish of onions, tomatoes, baked beans and some curry powder.
South African Chakalaka - Spicy, tangy, and full of flavours that literally jump off the plate!Click To Tweet
These are all ingredients that require little to no refrigeration. Refrigeration in the South African townships would have been an important consideration during the era of apartheid in South Africa, given the inadequate infrastructure like electricity in townships such as Soweto at the time. The curry powder in the recipe has Indian roots – the legacy left by work migrants from the Indian sub-continent to South Africa during the late 19th century.
South Africans are known for their love of barbecue and come the summer season, every respectable barbecue or braai features Chakalaka as a side dish. Today, most South Africans have their own versions of this staple dish with some more elaborate than others. Most recipes include beans as an ingredient. I have used Heinz Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce for this recipe as I like the sweetness imparted to the recipe from the baked beans, but feel free to substitute the baked beans for boiled black-eyed beans which works just as well.
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