Like chutney in India or salsa in Mexico, no one in South Africa prepares chakalaka, a spicy vegetable relish, the same way. And if you ask anyone who makes the best version, they will likely name their own mother or grandmother. Here is our version, full of vegetables and spices. It’s akin to giardiniera (the Italian mix of pickled vegetables that includes cauliflower and carrots) and also to English piccalilli relish, whose roots are in South Asian pickled vegetables, which is to say that cultures all across the world have some version of preserved vegetables that enhance many meals. Serve the chakalaka with bread, rice, grilled meats or fish, stews...anything. It’s particularly delicious with grilled sausages or tucked into a grilled cheese sandwich.
Warm the oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot set over medium heat. Stir in the onion, garlic, jalapeño, and ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander, and salt. Cook, stirring, just until the spices are wonderfully fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the bell peppers, carrots, cabbage, and tomatoes. reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, giving the mixture a stir every so often, until all the vegetables are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 30 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in the vinegar, and season the chakalaka to taste with salt. Let the chakalaka cool to room temperature and season it to taste one final time. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week, then serve it either cold or at room temperature.