We taste tested eight different brands of mildly spiced tinned chakalaka to determine how well-known brands compare to retail versions of chakalaka.
Whether you make your own or opt for the ultimate convenience and buy it tinned, only one thing is for sure, we’ve never come across braaivleis or comfort carbs that don’t benefit from being served with good old chakalaka!
In South Africa, the popular vegetable-based relish is widely available in many a tinned version, with different brands offering an assortment of varying takes on the traditionally made relish.
From sweet to ultra-tangy, to mildly spiced or spicy and extra hot, to loaded with beans or corn, or made simply with a tomato-based sauce, cabbage, carrots, peppers and onions, the taste of chakalaka is satisfyingly unique and purely nostalgic!
We looked at a few South African retail brands and their renditions of tinned chakalaka to see how they compare to popular well-known brands’ tinned versions of chakalaka.
Eight different brands of chakalaka were blind tasted and rated for the purpose of this taste test. Only mildly spiced tinned chakalakas without any additions of beans or corn were tasted. Each sample of chakalaka was served alongside plain white bread, for tasting purposes.
The results were extremely close, with mere decimals dividing first, second and third places. Each individual taster’s taste preferences came heavily into play, as everyone has a specific way they like their chakalaka!
Pick n Pay Chakalaka Mild & Spicy 4.5/5
Coming in tops, admittedly a rather unexpected wildcard, was Pick n Pay’s tinned chakalaka. Tasters loved that it was indeed mildly spiced, well balanced from a flavour perspective and had a good amount of veggies – all round, just what you’d expect from a good chakalaka!
Samplers said things like, “Packed with the right amount of heat and veggies AND flavour. Love it!” and “Nicely spiced, good flavour to it. Warm, spicy bite at the end.”
Costs R21.99 for a 410g tin
KOO Chakalaka Mild & Spicy 4/5
Tasters had very mixed opinions when it came to this sample, but despite the divided tasting team’s opinions, KOO still managed to clench the second spot with mere decimals separating the two samples!
While some tasters loved the sample, others did not. Tasters that were for this sample scored it favourably. Many awarded a full 5/5 and raved about it in the comments, leaving comments like: “My favourite… everything I want in a chakalaka,” and “The perfect balance of spice, flavour and veggies! Adding this to the cart immediately!”
Other tasters noted things like, “Veggies were very mushy and tastes strongly of raw spices,” and “Very oily, the oily taste overpowers the other flavour,” which ultimately affected the score each of those tasters awarded the sample and the average score in the end.
Overall, this sample did bring that characteristic chakalaka flavour, even if it divided the sampling audience!
Costs on average R24.99 for a 410g tin
Lucky Star Chakalaka 3.5/5
Tasters thought that while it was on the sweeter side it definitely had a bit of a tang to it, it was well balanced on the spiced front, and it was packed with flavour.
Here are what some of the tasters commented: “Tastes mildly spiced but not too hot. Almost a sweeter version but vinegar taste also comes through. Veggies have some bite to them which is nice, not mushy,” and “On the sweeter side, but enjoyable. Much more flavour packed!”
Costs on average R23.99 for a 410g tin
SPAR Chakalaka Mild & Spicy 3/5
Many tasters noted that this sample reminded them more of atchar than chakalaka. The sample was more on the oily side, mildly spiced with a good amount of veggies that had some bite to them.
Tasters noted some of these comments: “Delish… but tastes quite atchar-y,” and “Reminds me of mango atchar actually, but I really liked this one. Veggies aren’t mushy and have a nice spiciness to them.”
Costs R21.99 for a 410g tin
Food Lover’s Mild Chakalaka 3/5
Tasters felt this sample was a bit thin in consistency and lacked veggies, so not a stand-out sample overall.
“The consistency is very thin and watery which isn’t ideal for a relish,” is what one taster noted. Another felt the sample failed to satisfy, noting: “Tastes like raw spices to me… like the spices haven’t been cooked out properly. Very thin consistency. Lacks veggies and veggies that are there are mushy.”
Costs R19.99 for a 410g tin
Pot O’ Gold Chakalaka Mild 3/5
More of a tangy version of chakalaka that just seemed to miss the flavour mark, with most tasters noting it was rather bland.
“Tastes strongly of vinegar, very bland otherwise. Veggies very small, few and far between, almost mushy,” and “Slight spicy undertone, not enough tomato flavour or flavour in general. Quite bland,” were some of the comments tasters left.
Costs R19.99 for a 410g tin
Rhodes Quality Chakalaka Mild & Spicy 1.5/5
The sample had a very savoury flavour to it; tasters noted that it lacked that spicy flair so characteristic of chakalaka, even for a mild version.
Tasters noted things like: “Not a fave. Very funny flavour. It just tastes savoury? Salty maybe? But not mildly spiced,” and “This is basically just a tin of julienned carrots! It’s a no from me.”
Costs on average R22.99 for a 400g tin
Woolworths Food Mild Chakalaka 1.5/5
All tasters noted that this sample was very heavy on onions and oil. It had a very savoury taste to it that was not reminiscent of chakalaka. This sample was also very subtle when it came to the spices.
This is what tasters had to say: “Very heavy on onions… not much other veg. Tastes very savoury,” and “Onion and oil. That’s all I could taste.”
Costs R20.99 for a 400g tin
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The rules of Food24 Taste Tests:
– For the purpose of this taste test, only mild chakalakas were sampled.
– All tasters tasted and scored all samples. Each individual taster’s preference impacts the score they give.
– The samples were tested without packaging and were not easily identifiable.
– The samples were not labelled and were tasted in random order.
– This article is not sponsored in any way, and Food24 was not paid to come to any particular result.
Our taste tests are always unbiased and intended for your information. You may, however, have come to this article through various paid-for advertising.