International Recipes and Cooking Around the World


Pot of chakalaka on the stove

(South African spicy tomato, pepper and onion dish)

Image 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).


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