Chakalaka with Pap

Recipe courtesy of Tania and Syngin

Photo by: Laura Arnold

Laura Arnold

Chakalaka, a spicy vegetable relish from South African made with bell peppers, carrots and baked beans, can be served as a main course or a side dish and is often accompanied by pap, a thick boiled cornmeal. This recipe is one of Syngin’s favorites from growing up that he loves cooking in the States and sharing with Tania.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Active Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Ease of preparation: Easy


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon South African curry powder or paprika
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 fresh chiles, such as Thai chiles or jalapenos, stemmed and diced
  • One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated or chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, optional
  • 4 carrots, grated on the large holes of a box grater
  • 1 large ripe tomato, chopped
  • One 15-ounce can baked beans, optional


  • 2 cups instant (pre-boiled) cornmeal or regular cornmeal
  • Kosher salt


For the chakalaka: Heat the vegetable oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add all the bell peppers and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened but still slightly crunchy, 5 to 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the tomato paste, curry powder, garlic, chiles, ginger and Worcestershire if using and cook, stirring, until fragrant and the tomato paste is deep red in color, about 1 minute. Add the carrots and season again with salt and pepper. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup water and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the flavors have melded, about 20 minutes. Stir in the chopped tomato and baked beans if using and allow to heat through for 5 minutes or so. Season again with salt and pepper as desired.

For the pap: Meanwhile, combine the cornmeal and 3 to 4 cups of water in a large saucepan and cook according to package directions (this could take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes depending on the variety). Add more water for a thinner pap and less water for a thicker pap. Remove from the heat and season with salt (see Cook’s Note).

To serve, divide the pap among shallow bowls and spoon the chakalaka over the top.

Cook's Notes:

  • Once completely cooled, the chakalaka can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • If the pap sits for too long before serving it may thicken naturally; just stir in some hot water until it is the desired consistency.

Note: A viewer or guest of the show, who may not be a professional cook, provided this recipe. It has not been tested for home use.