The Braai Ritual, the South African Barbecue
BBQ World Tour #6 - In 2020, Kokko becomes a globe-trotter and offers you a "BBQ World Tour" to discover the history of grilling, smoking and roasting through different gastronomies. For this sixth stage, we take you to South Africa. Put on your gloves, heat the coal and install the grills: let's go!
The origins of Braai
The "braaievleis", the South African version of the barbecue, comes from the combination of the Afrikaans words "braai" meaning "to grill" and "vleis" meaning "meat". Braaievleis, therefore, means "grilled meat". The word was gradually shortened to give only "braai" today. As in the culture of Mookata, the Thai barbecue, Braai represents not only the way of cooking, the cooking device, but also the meal itself that one shares with family or friends.
Braai, a sacred custom in South Africa
In your own garden, on beaches, in parks, the barbecue in South Africa lights up everywhere! It is above all a social ritual, allowing you to share a moment of conviviality. In this rainbow nation where different cultures make up the richness of the country, the Braai unites and creates bonds. Braai is so popular in South Africa that a national day has been dedicated to it. Originally called "Heritage Day", September 24th was nicknamed "Braai Day". When you are invited to a barbecue in South Africa, it is customary for each guest to bring not only drinks but also meat.
It doesn't matter whether it's summer or winter, in a big blaze or with a portable barbecue, you can "Braai" all year round in South Africa, as long as you have mastered the art of embers.
The preparation of Braai
Braai cooking is done exclusively with wood, without the addition of charcoal or using firelighters, etc. In South Africa, the lighting of the barbecue is an exclusively male ritual. The women are in charge of preparing the side dishes.
As in the culture of the Argentinian Asado, on the occasion of each Braai, a man is appointed to supervise the fire and the cooking of the dishes from beginning to end. Cooking in the Braai is a long process, it is necessary to know how to control the embers to ensure that the meat cooks perfectly.
What is grilled at the Braai?
The Braai has nothing to envy the American BBQ, absolutely nothing. Indeed, South African gastronomy is a reflection of this multicultural country. Influenced by the cuisines of the world, it is rich, tasty and surprising. It nevertheless devotes a real cult to meat-based dishes. Chicken, lamb, pork, etc. everything can be cooked in Braai. Beef, especially tender and thick cuts such as tournedos and rump steak are very often used.
But the main dish to be grilled in Braai is the boerewors, a contraction of the Afrikaans words 'boer' meaning 'farmer' and 'wors', 'sausage' in Dutch. The boerewors is a farm sausage, similar to the chipolata. Made from beef and/or pork, lamb and spices, it is grilled slowly over the embers and can be eaten with bread, just like a hot dog. Before putting the boerewors on the grill, if you have any doubts, we take stock of whether or not to barbecue the sausages.
No Braai without sauce?
If Braai is a national sport, there are as many recipes for marinades, sauces and preparations as there are "Braaiers". While some simply add salt and pepper to the meat before cooking, others marinate it. One of the most popular marinades in South African cuisine is the "Monkeygland" sauce. No monkey in this preparation but garlic, ginger, soy sauce, ketchup, mustard and onion. This chutney is then coated over the meat, either as a marinade the day before the Braai or to accompany the meat at the tasting.