Home Food & Health African Food RECIPE: Chakalaka, as enjoyed by Barack Obama

RECIPE: Chakalaka, as enjoyed by Barack Obama


Marabi Club  head Chef Katlego Mlambo  recalls  one of the most memorable highlights  of his 10-year career  as the day Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey and 500  of  the most important people in the world ate his chakalaka.  

Mlambo took the reigns as head chef at the Nelson Mandela Centenary Celebrations,  hosted  at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC in 2019. This is the recipe that he used to bring a taste of the  Kasi  (township)  to the United States 

READ: Jozi chef is living out his wildest food dreams


  • 3 tablespoons oil  
  • 1 onion, finely chopped  
  • 2 green bird’s-eye chilies (Thai chilies), seeded and chopped  
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed  
  • 50 grams ginger, finely grated  
  • 2 tablespoons mild curry powder  
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped  
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped  
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped  
  • 5 large carrots, scrubbed, topped, tailed and grated  
  • 400 grams canned chopped tomatoes  
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste  
  • 400 grams canned baked beans  
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only  
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper  
  • 3 tablespoons smoked paprika  
  • 10 grams fresh curry leaves  


1. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onions until soft and translucent. Add the chilies, garlic and half of the ginger (reserve the other half to add right at the end). 

2. Add the curry powder and stir to combine. Add the bell peppers and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the carrots and stir to make sure they are well combined with the other ingredients and coated in the curry powder. Add in the tomatoes and tomato paste and stir.

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3. Cook until the mixture is well combined and slightly thickened, 5 to 10 minutes.  

4. Remove from the heat and add the baked beans, thyme and remaining ginger and stir to combine; season with salt and pepper.  

5. Serve hot or cold  and garnish with deep-fried curry leaves. 

READ: Jozi chef is living out his wildest food dreams

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Noluthando Ngcakani
Noluthando Ngcakani
With roots in the Northern Cape, this Kimberley Diamond has had a passion for telling human interest stories since she could speak her first words. A foodie by heart, she began her journalistic career as an intern at the SABC where she discovered her love for telling agricultural, community and nature related stories. Not a stranger to a challenge Ngcakani will go above and beyond to tell your truth.


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