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Chakalaka. South African Cuisine

Chakalaka. South African Cuisine
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I was going to make chicken thighs for dinner and I wanted to taste a completely new recipe. I had no mood to cook anything from Asian or Mediterranean cuisine. So for ideas I checked my cooking magazines for this grilling season ideas.

Looking through the pictures and articles I was intrigued by the word “braai”. It is a South African grill, very similar to American barbecue, but with its own character. According to the American chef Elizabeth Binder, braai is a kind of social phenomenon where men gather around the grill and socialize with a glass of wine or beer: one man cooks and the others enjoy the company. At the same time women chat in the kitchen, preparing bowls of salads, vegetables and side dishes.

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A few words about Elizabeth Binder: she was born in South Africa, where she graduated from a culinary college and worked in the best places of the country. She was lucky to prepare meals even for the presidents. Then, she packed a backpack and went to see the world. Working as a cook in many prestigious places in England and Australia, Elizabeth later settled in California, where she is working now and also preparing for the famous show ‘Top Chef’.

So, I wanted to learn more about the braai. And my acquaintance resulted in a terrific dinner in, I believe, true South African style. I mixed the spices, marinated chicken for the grill and cooked a fantastic Chakalaka which could be a salad, or a side dish.

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A characteristic feature of the South African cuisine is an extensive use of a very hot chili pepper, so called “bird’s eye” (also known as Thai chili). Unlike my son I can not handle extremely spicy dishes, so for my salad I used a jalapeno – and it was just enough heat for me.

Traditionally, Chakalaka is prepared with tomatoes, carrots, onions, garlic and red hot chili pepper – the “bird’s eye”. Very often white beans are added.

In the modern times it is not unusual to find a cauliflower or white cabbage in Chakalaka.

Today I am introducing my version of a bright and tasty Chakalaka – a gorgeous side dish or a salad, perfect for a picnic and equally delicious either hot or cold (room temperature).

Oh, by the way, I have already made Chakalala three times. In the last one I replaced navy beans with garbanzo beans. What a delish!

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[My picture of the Chakalaka is published in Johannesburg tourist booklet (South Africa)]

 

Instrucrions:

In a frying pan heat the olive oil. Add the onion and ginger, and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

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Add the chili pepper, curry powder and cook for 1 minute.

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Add the carrots and cook for 1 minute.

Add the sweet peppers and stir.

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Add the tomatoes, salt, black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for about 12-15 .

Remove the lid, add the beans and cilantro. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat.

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Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat.

If Chakalaka is too sour to your taste (it depends on the tomatoes), add ¼ – ½ tsp sugar.

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Chakalaka. South African Cuisine

Author: Nina Phomina
Course Salads, Vegetarian
Cuisine African
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6
Author Nina Phomina

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion ( 8-10 oz/250-300 g) , chopped or sliced
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger , finely chopped
  • 1 medium jalapeno , finely chopped (for a very spicy version 1-2 Thai peppers/"bird's eye")
  • 1-4 tsp curry powder (I used 2 tsp)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic , minced
  • 4 carrots , peeled, coarsely grated (I used a "mandolin" type grater)
  • 2-3 sweet peppers , chopped or sliced
  • 2 large tomatoes , chopped, or 1 can of tomatoes in their own juice (14-16 oz/400-500 g)
  • 1 can (14-16 oz/400-500 g) white navy beans , drained
  • salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp olive (or other vegetable) oil for cooking
  • 1/2 cup cilantro , finely chopped

Instructions

  1. In a frying pan heat the olive oil. Add the onion and ginger, and cook for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the chili pepper, curry powder and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the carrots and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add the sweet peppers and stir.
  6. Add the tomatoes, salt, black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for about 12-15 minutes.
  7. Remove the lid, add the beans and cilantro. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat.

Recipe Notes

If Chakalaka is too sour to your taste (it depends on the tomatoes), add ¼ - ½ tsp sugar.

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Cook with pleasure and enjoy the world!



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