What is a braai in South Africa?
If you are a South African, you definitely know the answer to that question. ... The word braai (pronounced “bry”, rhyming with the word “cry”; plural braais) is Afrikaans for “barbecue” or “roast” and is a social custom in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia. A braai is an opportunity to invite friends or family and more the merrier. If a South African could braai every day, then they would. If you are invited to a braai it is typical to bring your own drinks and a salad or dessert.
Meats are the star of the South African braai. They typically include boerewors, sosaties, kebabs, marinated chicken, pork and lamb chops, steaks, sausages of different flavours and thickness, and possibly even a rack or two of spareribs. Fish and crayfish (kreef in Afrikaans) are also popular in coastal areas.
What exactly is a braai?
A braai is what Americans might consider a barbeque and Australians a barbie; however, while most Americans use gas, electricity or charcoal to fuel the fire and Australians only use gas, South Africans almost always use wood (charcoal is sometimes considered cheating). Furthermore, the cultivation of the fire using wood is considered a true art form. Usually, the host of the braai is in charge of tending the fire and with that comes great responsibility. Guests often hover around the braai with a glass of wine or a beer as the “braai master” turns the meat on the grill.
What do we typically eat at a braai?
If you ever get a chance to attend a picnic or barbecue organised by a South African, you most likely will get the chance to sample one of South Africa’s favourite staple dishes. Pap, wors and chakalaka is a much loved dish in South Africa, it is made up of maize/corn flour (paste), wors (South African sausage) and chakalaka which is a side dish comprising, tomatoes, onions and garlic.
Biltong – Biltong is beef or game that is air-dried and marinated to a traditional South African recipe of rock salt, pepper, coarsely ground coriander and vinegar. The meat is then air-dried in a unique drying room for up to 10 days. Once the biltong is ready is can be sliced into bite sizes pieces. We normally nibble on biltong while the braai master is braai-ing his meat.
Boerewors – Boerewors means “Farmer’s sausage” in Afrikaans, which, as it implies, is a traditional local sausage made of either just beef or a mixture of pork & beef. The difference between traditional sausage and boerewors is the abundance of spices like allspice, coriander, cloves, nutmeg and black pepper mixed with the meat.
Lamb chops – A local braai favourite. Marinate them for one hour with garlic, rosemary and thyme and you won’t regret it.
Pap – Pap, also called mieliepap, means “maize porridge” in Afrikaans. A traditional porridge or polenta-like dish, it has the consistency of mashed potatoes and is often served with a savoury sauce, called chakalaka and is made from tomato and onion relish
Here is the recipe for pap, wors and chakalaka:
6 cups water
Salt and Pepper
500g maize meal
To make the pap, bring the water to a boil and add the salt. Once the water is boiling gradually stir in the maize meal. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring often, until it is cooked through and has thickened.
1kg boerewors sausage (www.thesouthafricanshop.com) – you can also pick up biltong from this shop
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finally chopped
2cm ginger, finely chopped
1-2 tsp barbeque spice
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1-2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 lemon zested
To prepare the chakalaka, add the oil to a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook gently until softened 6-8 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant 1-2 minutes. Add the barbecue spice, stir, then add tomatoes, salt, pepper and lemon zest, and cook until tomato has softened.
Serve the pap, boerewors with the chakalaka whilst hot.
You can now enjoy a typical South African braai in Hong Kong and don´t forget you will need your Lotus BBQ Grill