• Magdalena Westman

Art of cooking (Chakalaka)




The word chakalaka comes from the Zulu language, meaning all together. Popular belief is that the dish originated in the single quarters of the mining compounds in the townships of Johannesburg, where migrant workers coming off shift had limited access to fresh supplies & cooking facilities but needed a sustaining meal. Many of the mineworkers hailed from Mozambique & were familiar with Portuguese spicy dishes. So spicing up tinned vegetables produced a tasty accompaniment to the standard pap (maize meal porridge) staple. Currently the many variations of Chakalaka depend on region and family tradition. Some versions include butternut & other favourite vegetables. The spiciness of Chakalaka varies with taste from mild to very hot. Although it was primarily served with a corn-based porridge such as pap, making it a well-rounded vegetarian meal, Chakalaka became a quintessential part of barbecues because it pairs perfectly with meat. Nowadays, every family has their own special Chakalaka recipe, and the dish is also sold in stores and offered in most local restaurants.


50ml oil

1 onion large (250g) finely chopped

3 capsicum (paprika) - green/red/ yellow- finely diced

3 tsp heaped red chili paste or fresh chili to taste

3 garlic cloves finely chopped

4cm piece fresh ginger finely chopped

300g cabbage finely chopped

3 med-large carrots, grated

1 med-large cauliflower florets only

1 x 410g can chopped tomatoes

2 tsp heaped Cz curry powder

3 tsp salt or to taste

1 x 410g can butter beans

1 x 410g can red kidney beans

fruit chutney to taste


Braise the onions, capsicum and chilies in the heated cooking oil adding garlic & ginger towards the end.

When soft, add the cabbage, carrots & cauliflower. Allow to soften before adding the tomatoes.

Add curry powder, salt, beans & chutney.

Once combined, allow to cook on medium heat for a few minutes to allow the flavours to integrate. Flavours will develop over time, best next day. Serve hot or cold. It will keep for one week refrigerated.

Great with grilled sausage & mashed potatoes.


Bon appetit

Randolph.