What is a Braai

South Africa
at its best

24 September
National Braai Day

Patron: Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Braaiing is South Africa’s premier social occasion. South Africans will organise a braai at the drop of a hat. And they go to great lengths to do it. Even the national heritage day was renamed National Braai Day at the initiative of the world-famous braai-master Jan Braai. South Africans take off work and school every 24 September to celebrate the enormous diversity of their many cultures, traditions and languages. To underline the strength and beauty of what they call their ‘rainbow nation’, the former Archbishop Desmond Tutu has been the patron of this national event for years.

Tutu calls on all South Africans to celebrate a wonderful braai together on that day, and of course to love each other. And that happens en masse. Everyone uses this holiday to braai with family, friends and neighbours. That’s why 24 September has now become National Braai Day for everyone in South Africa.

What happens that day speaks for itself. People gather together, at home or in parks, and enjoy their cultural and culinary heritage to the full.

Of course braaiing isn’t reserved just for public holidays. In South Africa you could almost say that every day is Braai Day. Fortunately they don’t keep this national phenomenon to themselves. Their passion and love for braaiing has spread around the world in recent years. That’s why you can also share the pleasure of a braai in your own garden or home.

Eat, chat
and enjoy!

Every day is braai day in South Africa. It’s the most familiar question: is it time to braai again? It’s an easy question to answer: YES. It’s time to look for the best braai spot. And to start thinking about the best dishes. What was that secret recipe for the perfect marinade, and how long should the meat marinate? What was it we used to put in grandma’s ‘potjiekos’ – the round, cast-iron, three-legged pot so ubiquitous in South African cooking? When exactly is that steak done? And how do I cope with the unsolicited advice from my neighbour, best friend or father-in-law?

The great thing about a braai is that it you can braai anywhere, anytime. Find a sheltered spot, build a fire and gather people around you. That’s all you need to get started. Exactly what you put in the dishes and side-dishes usually isn’t a problem, as the possibilities are infinite. The most important thing is to use a good braai. Whether it’s portable, free-standing or built-in, you’re always ready for a braai in the right place and with the right company.

We’ve heard so many wonderful braai stories over the years that we’ve been organising and hosting braais. Perhaps they’re not all true, but they are certainly worth listening to. People share their stories, ideas and recipes around a braai, with or without being asked. We love telling these stories to inspire you too. Would you like to share your own braai tales?

Braais come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you want to braai with a small group in the garden, or under a veranda, makes quite a difference. Or if you want to eat indoors with the entire family. The principle of a braai is always the same irrespective of the circumstances and the company: you make your own embers with your wood fire to prepare the purest dishes with a personal touch.

Your braai starts with a steady fire in the ember maker. Once the logs are burning well, you use a poker to poke the fire so that the embers fall through. Then just slide the coals under the stainless steel grids and you’re good to go. You can of course also use the radiant heat for your spit. And make sure you keep the fire going, because that gives you a constant supply of coals.

It’s time to start braaiing once the embers are glowing. Of course you’ve prepared everything down to the last detail, or you’ve outsourced it to your cooking team. You can prepare the most delicious dishes on the sturdy stainless steel grid. From large slices of meat and big pieces of ‘boerewors’ sausage, to complete fish or grilled vegetables. You can also hang a delicious stew in a ‘potjie’ on the braai crank. Other options include a spit for chicken, other cuts of meat or pineapple, a bread oven for crusty fresh bread and low & slow cooking, or the drawers for gratinéed potatoes and vegetables. Whatever you make, all dishes embody the unique flavour of your own embers and cooking passion.

Fortunately when dinner’s over, the braai isn’t, not at all. All that’s needed is to stoke up the coals again to create an atmospheric open fire. That creates the ideal setting to enjoy the food and talk about life for hours afterwards. And not forgetting a good glass of wine or beer, or something else of course.

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