There’s little that South Africans love doing more than standing around a big ol’ braai, which is why Braai Day has managed to piggyback so deliciously onto our National Heritage Day. If you’d like to spice up your day with some new braai moves, you’ve come to the right place. But first let’s have a quick look at the story of Braai Day, because everyone loves an origin story, right? Besides, it’s quite interesting.
The 24th of September was originally Shaka Day in KwaZulu-Natal in commemoration of the Zulu King and became an official public holiday in 1996. In 2005, Jan Braai started an initiative that called upon all South Africans to celebrate their common roots by having a braai on Heritage Day. The National Heritage Council originally dismissed the idea as trivial, but endorsed it the year after Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu was made the National Spokesperson for Braai Day. Tutu said, “We’re going to have this wonderful thing on the 24th of this month… when we all gather round one fire… Irrespective of your politics, of your culture, of your race, of your whatever… just South Africans doing one thing together, and recognizing that we are a fantastic nation.”
Celebrating around the braai is for every diet, every crede and every colour, so I’ve put together mixture of old and new tricks to keep your braai interesting this National Heritage Day. Nou gaan ons braai.
NO FIRELIGHTERS? GET CREATIVE
Did you know that Doritos make for great kindling? I don’t even want to know why, but they do. Another alternative is to put dried-out teabags in a bottle and fill half the bottle with paraffin. The teabags soak up all the paraffin and are excellent firelighters. Another natural resource: pine cones. Now you have no excuse not to have a blazing fire.
BUT WHAT IF THE WOOD IS WET?
There’s nothing like the frustration of struggling with wet wood. Try this next time; sprinkle plain white sugar over your stack and light with Blitz. The sugar burns at a high temperature so you increase the internal temperature of the stack. Science!
Lemons come in very handy around a braai. Not only are they great at getting rid of grease from previous braais but a squeeze on just-braaied boerewors or lamb chops brings out all the flavour. When life gives you lemons, save them for the braai.
WHEN THE BRAAI HITS YOUR EYE LIKE BIG PIZZA PIE
Braai pies have become quite a hot topic recently but this one is slightly different. It’s also incredibly convenient. Take two oven pizza bases, smear cream cheese on the top of one and place the other pizza face down on top of it (you can put a range of toppings in here: mushrooms, pepadews, peppers etc – turn it into a seriously tasty treat) to form a large calzone. Braai over low coals and you’ve got yourself a braai pizza pie.
Potjies aren’t just for lamb or oxtail. In fact, some people throw all kinds of things into the potjie pot. I’ve even heard of a lasagne being made in one. For our purposes though, why not try a Thai green curry in there, or a combo of soft and succulent veg? By doing a potjie braai you’re essentially taking your oven outdoors and enabling a myriad of food preferences to be a part of the braai festivities, so get creative and anything is possible.
Mushrooms deserve more space on the grid – they’re easy to cook and take on a great smoky flavour. There are a few ways to get your fungi fix on the braai. Snap off the stalks and smear on some pesto or feta and cheddar.
SWEETEN UP THE BRAAIBROODJIE
Everyone loves a braaibroodjie but they don’t need to be limited to the standard cheese, tomato, onions and chutney. I’m suggesting a full-on dessert braaibroodjie: sweeten it up with chocolate spread , sliced banana and marshmallows. Or caramel, coconut shavings and raspberries.
KING OF THE CONE
This one’s for the kids. Pop marshmallows, small pieces of chocolate, strawberries and bananas into an ice cream cone and then wrap in tinfoil. Put it on the braai and once it’s all melted into a delicious mush, it’s time to dig in.
Celebrate our most cherished South African traditions in an eco-friendly way with paraffin free firelighters.