Though in the United States BBQ may seem as American apple pie, it has a special place in the national consciousness of many countries, none more so than in South Africa. Braai (rhymes with “cry”) literally means “barbecue” or “grill” in Afrikaans, and is a venerable tradition among all South Africans. South Africa even has a national Braai Day, September 24th of every year. While braai refers to the grill, which is almost always wood or charcoal (sorry, no propane here!), it also refers to the event itself, much like barbecue does in the US. A real braai typically includes a heap of meat, a wood grill, icy cold beverage and large group of friends. For the newbie, here’s some braai advice from the king of Braai in South Africa.
So what do you bring to a braai? The answer is, predictably: it depends, but it seems like nearly anything goes. Though you may grill anything from kebabs to chicken, steaks, fish (in coastal areas); something quintessentially South African is boerewors. Boerewors are a type of spiced beef (sometimes mixed with pork) sausage that is native to South Africa, and is typically found in a coil formation, as seen above. If you find yourself in Wisconsin on Braai Day you can even find South African-style Boerwoers in Milwaukee! Or for the intrepid, make your own boerewors from scratch.
Never fear though, even if you don’t have boerewors, you can still have a perfectly respectable braai. Sosaties, or grilled kebabs, usually made with lamb, are a favorite choice for a braai. Another classic non-meat braai dish is pap, a sort of South African polenta made with cornmeal. Yuppiechef has a nice version of Stywe pap with a tomato relish. For more inspiration, Cook Sister has a great description of Braai culture, as well as a great roundup of recipes, both classic and modern. Summer is still going strong, and we are looking forward to adding some Braai flavor to our next barbecue.