Chakalaka with Mealie Pap

Starvation and poverty is a very real problem and yet Ramadan is a time when people normally eat at more dinner parties than normal and as such consume food which is much heavier than normal on a daily basis. As I write this the news is on in the background and a Somali woman tells her story of walking for 30 days in search of food, fighting bandits, fighting off rapists and burying babies and children along the way. Subhan’Allah Ramadan is 30 days long and most of can’t even imagine going for casual walks while we are fasting with the promise of food at the end of the day let alone walking until we find food. I pray insh’Allah that Allah(swt) grants those affected by the drought safety, food, shelter, medicine, water and most of all the ability to self sustain and not be dependent on others.

Eating to excess is not good for the body nor is this good for those who have less than we do. Inshallah this Ramadan I intend for my family to have Chakalaka and Mealie Pap once to remind us that others are not as fortunate as us and others. I’ll be honest and tell you that this caused a discussion in my household. My husband’s view being that by having this meal in Ramadan we weren’t changing anything, nor were we doing anything to affect poverty away from our dinning table. I, however, disagree. I feel that just by having the discussion we were doing something. Inshallah the intention is for us to give the money that we would have spent on meat directly to a charity. Inshallah it is something and frankly that has to be better than stuffing ourselves when there really is no need.

Sura Al-A’raf “…and eat and drink, but waste not by extravagance, certainly (He) Allah likes not Al-Musrifun (Those who waste by extravagance)” (7:31)

Chakalaka may sound like a Bollywood song (Shakalaka baby) however, the origins of this meal lie in the townships of Soweto in South Africa. Traditionally this meal was a meal of poverty, a meal made of odds and ends to feed a family of many. Nowadays Chakalaka has been elevated to the tables of well-to-do South Africans as a spicy barbeque relish to be eaten on the side rather like cold spicy baked beans.

When I first saw this recipe something became very apparent to me – everyone has their very own chakalaka recipe. It just doesn’t have such a fantastic name! It’s the dish I make when I can’t be bothered to think too much about what to cook, when I want us all to eat the same thing and I am sure you have one too. Made with odds and ends it remains true to its township origins. I used things I normally have in my fridge. For this to be truly authentic I would suggest replacing the vegetables for those that you normally use. Please remember there are no rights and wrongs with the Chakalaka…go with the flow, do what you feel is right and please remember to have the discussion while you eat!

In a little OIL fry an onion with some peeled and chopped GARLIC and GINGER. Once they have gone translucent add 1 teaspoon of GARAM MASALA, TUMERIC, 2 chopped CHILLIES, 1 chopped CARROT, 2 chopped PEPPERS, 1 tin of BUTTER BEANS (drained and washed), 1 TIN OF TOMATOES, gently stir and allow to simmer for about 7 mins before adding SALT and PEPPER to taste and any green herbs that you may have to hand. Serve with mealie pap or rice or pasta.

Mealie Pap

After eating our meal of Chakalaka and Mealie Pap, both my husband and I noticed that we should have eaten less as it was extremely filling. Further more neither of us was particularly hungry the next day. Its got be thinking that maize meal might be great for sehri inshallah I’ll have a play around and see if I can create something tasty and filling!

1 and 1/4 mug of coarse or medium maize meal

Reserve ¼ of a mug of maize meal aside.
1. Place 1 mug of maize meal in a bowl and mix with 2 mugs of hot water and stir until it is a thick paste. You may need a little more hot water.
2. Boil 1 mug of water in a pan and mix in the thick paste. Keep stirring. The stirring is essential, ideally with a wooden spoon.
3. Add another mug hot water to pan. It should be thick and smooth.
4. Add the left over maize meal. Cook for a few more minutes.

Serve immediately as this sets once it is left cool. If it does set and you want to reheat, either microwave to retain the same shape or mix in a little more hot water to recreate a smooth soft consistency.

To serve with Chakalaka, swirl the mealie pap on to a plate creating a circle with a sight indentation in the middle to ‘hold’ the chakalaka.