Traditional barbeque

traditional south african braai

South Africans love a good barbeque, or as it is commonly referred to in the country, a good braai. So much so, in fact, that the country’s Heritage Day has become known as National Braai Day. 24 September is a day dedicated to spending time around the fire cooking food with family and friends. Any trip to South Africa would be incomplete without a proper braai, and chances are, you’ll find yourself at one before long.

Anything and everything can go on the braai fire. Some firm favourites include mielies (the South African term for corn on the cob), garlic bread, meat, boerewors (a local sausage that has become something of a delicacy) and potatoes. Because everyone in South Africa is united in their understanding of how important a good, old-fashioned traditional braai is, there are even TV shows and contests dedicating to finding the ultimate king or queen of the grill.

Braaing is something of a national pastime throughout South Africa, and as a result of this, braai vleis, Afrikaans for “grilled or barbequed meat” is a firm favourite food. To accompany their braai vleis, South Africans like to indulge in side dishes such as pap (a firm porridge made of corn meal) and chakalaka (a tomato based gravy crammed full of chillies, carrots, green peppers and an assortment of other vegetables).

Within South Africa, the concept of a braai is so celebrated that there are, in fact, restaurants dedicated to serving only the best, top quality braai vleis and accompanying dishes. A shisa nyama is usually part of a butchery, where patrons go and select and purchase their meats before it is cooked on an open fire. Over the past ten years, these restaurants have grown in popularity, with numerous establishments opening up all over the country, from Kimberley to Cape Town, much to the delight of both locals and tourists.

No trip to South Africa would be complete without a true, traditional braai or shisa nyama. Not only is the food truly hearty, tantalising and delicious, it also forms an integral part of the country’s culture and heritage.

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