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Spicy chakalaka

Spicy Chakalaka

Course Appetizer, Condiment, Side
Keyword African Bird's Eye Pepper, Cayenne Pepper
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 16 servings
Calories 181kcal


  • 6 red bird’s eye chilies finely diced, seeds and all
  • 3 medium-size yellow onions peeled, halved, and cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 5 ounces salted butter
  • 6 cloves garlic peeled and finely sliced
  • 4 medium-size carrots peeled — 2 carrots grated and 2 cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes skinned, roughly chopped, juice and all
  • 3 medium-size bell peppers one red, one green, one yellow. Halved, deseeded, and first cut into 1/3-inch thick slices lengthways, then into ¾ inch pieces
  • 2 heaped teaspoons ground sea salt
  • 2 heaped teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 heaped teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 heaped teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 heaped teaspoons ground paprika
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground cilantro
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 heaped teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 can borlotti beans 15-ounce can — drained and rinsed
  • 1 can cannellini beans 15-ounce can — drained and rinsed
  • 1 can black beans fagioli nero, 15-ounce can — drained and rinsed
  • 8 ounces sweetcorn kernels fresh off the cob is grand, but rinsed from a can is fine
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice


  • First up is the slow-cooked ‘sauce’ that forms the base for your chakalaka. So, on a medium-high heat, melt the butter in a saucepan that’s easily large enough to hold two quarts. Once the butter foams, add the onions and salt, and drop the heat to low-medium.
  • Let the onions fry gently - with the occasional stir - for about 7 minutes. You want them to become really softened but not take on much colour. Then add the grated carrot, chilies, garlic, and black pepper. Stir, turn the heat to low and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the sugar, cayenne pepper, and all the ground spices. Cook the mix on that low heat for 5 minutes with a few watchful stirs to prevent it catching on the pan’s bottom.
  • Now add the chopped tomatoes, diced carrots and water. Stir well and raise the heat to high. As it starts to bubble, drop the heat to low. Cover the pan and let it simmer for 15 minutes. As its simmering, give the sauce a few good stirs to break up any chunky pieces of tomato.
  • Add the bell peppers and turn the heat to low-medium. You’re aiming for the peppers to become barely al dente – about 8 simmering minutes with a few stirs on that low-medium heat should do the trick. Try a piece or two to check. Cook for a little longer if you feel the peppers are a little underdone.
  • Time now for the final ingredients that will add yet more flavor and texture to your chakalaka. Stir in all the beans and bring the pan back to a slow simmer. Cook for 3 minutes and then add the sweetcorn. After another 3 minutes simmer, remove the pan from the heat. Check for saltiness, and add according to your taste.
  • Last two steps? Stir in the lime juice. Then imagine all the ways to serve your chakalaka.


Calories: 181kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 459mg | Potassium: 474mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 4339IU | Vitamin C: 64mg | Calcium: 57mg | Iron: 2mg