Friday, October 19, 2012

Vegan MoFo - Stopover 15 - South Africa

The cuisine of South Africa is also described as the rainbow cuisine due to the variety of multicultural sources. As well as traditional cookery from it's indigenous inhabitants, there is also a mixture of Dutch, French, German, British, Indonesian, Malaysian and Indian influences. I planned to cook a couple of South African recipes although only one of them made it to our stomachs so I'll start with the sad story and end on a good note!

Even though I'm not much of a corn lover, I had been contemplating veganising a steamed cornbread recipe in World Vegetarian Classics by Celia Brooks Brown for a while. This South African cornbread called mealie sounded like an interesting baking process as the loaf tin was covered in foil and baked in the oven in a bain-marie. The only vegan substitutions I needed to make were dairy-free margarine for butter and ground flaxseed mixed with water for eggs. It was a really simple recipe to put together but the alarm bells started ringing when I checked it after an hour and it was a gloopy mess which hadn't set at all! When this hadn't changed after a further 30 minutes, I decided to take drastic measures and ditched the foil and bain-marie. This allowed the bread to brown on top although it still wouldn't set in the middle, so in a rare occurrence (as I really hate to waste food) this dish met it's fate with the bin. I'm not keen to revisit the recipe as I wasn't fond of the taste of the mixture anyway, it was way too sweet for my liking.

When I was hunting around for recipes I fell in love with the name of a dish called Chakalaka as it seemed to roll off the tongue so seamlessly. Chakalaka has been a staple of South Africans for generations and is often served as an accompaniment at barbecues, sometimes as a cold dish. I was also amused with the inclusion of tinned baked beans in the ingredients which is something I don't generally eat, especially since enjoying a few home-made versions. This was such an easy dish that only required a bit of chopping and frying and the end result was so worthwhile, we've eaten spicy bean dishes three nights in a row and enjoyed this one most. This is a tasty speedy meal for bean lovers as long as you enjoy a bit of spice although this could be altered to suit personal tastes. Chakalaka is usually served with cornbread, it worked well with leftover rice for us and I'm sure it would be great on toast too.

Chakalaka (Adapted from these recipes)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green capsicum (bell pepper), diced
2 birds eye chillies, finely chopped
2 teaspoon curry powder
3 medium tomatoes, diced
2 medium carrots, grated
1 x 420g tin baked beans
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, capsicum and chilli and fry for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally or until softened. Stir through the curry powder for a minute then add the tomatoes. Allow the tomatoes to soften and break down then add the grated carrots. Cook for a further 5 minutes then stir through the baked beans. After a minute or two the baked beans should be warmed through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with rice, cornbread or on some toast.


Did you know? I couldn't decide on one fact today so I'm giving you three!

South Africa has three capital cities, Cape Town is the the legislative capital, Pretoria is the executive capital and Bloemfontein is the judicial capital.

South Africa is the only country in the world that had two Nobel Peace Prize winners residing in the same street! Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu used to live in the same street in Soweto.

South Africa is the only country in the world to date that has abandoned it's nuclear weapons programme. Way to go South Africa!

Do you want to know where else I've been this month? Click here for the round up.


  1. Oh what a shame about the corn-gloop! I'm on your side when it comes to disliking corn (it's so sweet!) but I don't mind it in some cornbread recipes.

    And I like the look (and sound!) of Chakalaka and now I have this song stuck in my head ;)

    1. There was a lot of corn in this particular recipe plus some sugar which made it even sweet so as much I hated to throw it out I'm sure I wouldn't have enjoyed eating it.

      I had a laugh at the song, I haven't heard it in years and never realised about the chakalaka bit before. I got it stuck in my head for a bit too. ;)

  2. I always have tinned baked beans in the cupboard for days when I have no energy - and sylvia loves these but not home made :-( So I think this sounds like a great stew. And I would love to live on a street with mandela and desmond tutu as neighbours

    1. I always have baked beans in the cupboard for the man as he has them for lunch when there is nothing else around. This definitely made the baked beans a lot more interesting.

      It would be a great street to live on ;)

  3. Chakalaka is definitely a wonderful name - like music :) I'm sorry the mealie didn't work out though, as that is a dish that has always captivated my imagination (in theory I don't like corn bread, but mealie sounds suitably African and exotic!). I may move it to 'corn bread' in my mind and go for chakalaka if I ever want some SA cuisine.

    1. I'm really taken with the chakalaka name and the dish wasn't too shabby either. The mealie was an interesting recipe and I really loved the photo of it in my cookbook. Cooking disasters are bound to happen every now and then, I usually keep them to myself though ;)

  4. How can something with such a beautiful name not be great?! I love those meals that can turn all the stuff hanging around at the back of your fridge into something appealing!

    1. I've been loving all of the bean recipes this week as I haven't a lot of the ingredients on hand. It's been eye opening finding out how cultures utilise different ingredients.