Chakalaka {South African Vegetable Relish – Vegan, Gluten Free}


Never tried Chakalaka? You’re missing out. Chakalaka is a traditional South African vegetable relish that tastes amazing served with bread, stews, meat and more. Learn how to easily make it in this post.

Guys, I have a delicious dish for you today: Chakalaka.

If you’ve never heard of Chakalaka before you might think it’s a Mexican dish by the name. Nope. It is a South African dish.

Although its exact origins are unknown, some believe it originated from mineworkers in Johannesburg who added tomatoes, beans, chilli and anything else they had into a pot to create a vegetable dish with a Portuguese flair.

However it originated, it is now a staple of South African cuisine and is served just about everywhere in South Africa, especially at braais (cookouts/barbecues).

It is soooo easy to make and soooo flavourful (think spicy, tangy, and oh-so-good).


No one really ‘does’ Chakalaka in exactly the same way – there are all sorts of variations of the recipe. However, most recipes contain:

  • Tomatoes
  • Beans, especially baked beans (there is something so comforting about baked beans – brings us back to childhood I guess)
  • Onions

Then you add loads of veggies and spices to your liking. I’m serving you up a version with carrots, peppers, fresh thyme, ginger and garlic – not quite as spicy as some versions because I chose to omit the hot chillies.

(But if you like seriously spicy, feel free to add them back in.)


Let’s make this Chakalaka recipe, shall we? Here’s how…

  • Step 1. To a pan over medium heat, add the oil. Then add onion and sauté until translucent and softened.
  • Step 2. Add garlic, ginger and curry powder. Stir to combine.
  • Step 3. Add peppers. Cook for 2 mins.
  • Step 4. Add carrots. Stir to combine and ensure they’re coated in curry powder.
  • Step 5. Add tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir to combine.
  • Step 6. Cook mixture for 5-10 mins. Mixture should be well combined and thickened slightly.
  • Step 7. Add baked beans and fresh thyme. Simmer for 5 mins.

To serve: Remove from heat. Can be served hot or cold.


  • You can this recipe vegan or vegetarian by using baked beans that do not contain bacon or any other animal product. Use my baked beans recipe and omit the gammon and use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.
  • This is a versatile recipe. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different recipes. (I just saw a variation with chickpeas instead of baked beans – why not?)
  • Make it spicier by adding chillies.


Some refer to Chakalaka as a (spicy) vegetable relish, some refer to Chakalaka as a salad, and yet others refer to Chakalaka as a sauce.

No matter what you call it, it’s a condiment that is meant to be eaten not on its own but served alongside another food. (See the section below for serving ideas.)


You can serve it with…

  • Crusty bread
  • Crackers
  • Toast
  • Braaied (barbecued) meat
  • Pap (South African porridge/polenta)
  • Stews

Serve it at home, serve it at outdoor social gatherings, serve it everywhere… no matter how you serve it, it is goooood South African food.