International Recipes and Cooking Around the World


Chakalaka Recipe (South African spicy tomato, pepper and onion dish)

(South African spicy tomato, pepper and onion dish)

Image Creative Commons by iphilipp

Average: 3.9 (18 votes)

Born in the townships of South Africa, chakalaka is a simple, spicy dish of onions, tomatoes and often beans. It has been a staple for generations of black South Africans, and is a required condiment at South African braais, or barbecues. And what a fun name!

Chakalaka can be served hot or cold, over mealie pap, with slices of bread, or as a condiment for grilled meats.

4 to 6 servings


  • Oil -- 3 tablespoons
  • Onions, chopped -- 2
  • Bell peppers -- 2
  • Hot chile peppers, minced -- 2 or 3
  • Garlic, minced -- 2 or 3 cloves
  • Curry powder -- 2 teaspoons
  • Tomatoes, chopped -- 3
  • Baked beans in tomato sauce -- 1 (15-ounce) can
  • Salt and pepper -- to taste


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium flame. Add the onions, bell peppers, chile peppers, garlic and curry powder. Saute, stirring frequently, until the onions and peppers are cooked down and wilted, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the baked beans, salt and pepper and stir to heat through. Serve hot or cold.

Chakalaka Variations

  • The original chakalaka was probably a simple dish of onions, tomatoes and a little curry powder. These days, every South African has his or her own favorite recipe, and many are quite elaborate.
  • Baked beans are not necessary, but are very common. They also make it a full meal when paired with mealie pap.
  • Other possible additions include minced fresh ginger (added with the onions), grated carrots, shredded cabbage or chopped cauliflower (added after the tomatoes and simmered until cooked) and chopped cilantro (stirred in at the end).


I am interested in learning more about the origin of the name "Chakalaka". Could you please explain the origin (etymology) of the name of this delicious dish from South Africa?

Thanks so much!


Chakalaka is a spicy African vegetable relish traditionally served with bread, pap, samp, stews or curries. To balance its fiery flavour, it is sometimes served with amasi (thick sour milk). Chakalaka is said[who?] to have originated in the townships of Johannesburg.

I worked in the food industry in South Africa and researched Chakalaka to develop commercial versions 15 years ago. Then, the variation in the concept was already very broad, but it was consistently extremely spicy. Most frequently, it had a lot of cabbage and carrot, with some bell pepper, baked beans, and a bit of tomato, and obviously chili peppers. The vegetables cook down making the sauce. A touch of curry powder is quite common. It is extremely tasty, and if it is made mild, even children, not used to the flavor, will enjoy it.