Considering we have an actual day dedicated to it every year, there’s no denying that braaing is a South African tradition. National Braai Day on 24 September each year heralds the start of the summer season and hopefully many more braais still to come.
Braais are about far more than just throwing a few pieces of meat on the fire though. They’re an opportunity to spend time with family and friends, and for the more macho South African man to show off his cooking skills to the (hopefully) impressed guests. To make sure you have time for these very important things, you’ll want to get super-organised.
Count up your guests and estimate how much an average person will eat. Then multiply those figures together to figure out how much food you’ll need.
Also count up your chairs, plates, glasses and cutlery in case you need to hire or borrow some.
If you’re on a budget, feel free to ask people to bring something to contribute. Be specific about what, so you don’t end up with 20 bags of chips or four salads and nothing else. Asking guests to bring their own meat and/or drinks is perfectly acceptable.
Remember to put the charcoal, firelighters and matches on your shopping list, so you don’t find out at the last minute that you’re missing one of these critical ingredients.
If your fridge space is limited, a big basin with plenty of ice works well for storing drinks.
What to serve
Serve food that is easy to grab and eat with one hand, while you’re standing around the fire with a drink in the other. Chips and dips or peanuts work well, or if you want to get fancy, make some crostini.
Meat is usually the most expensive part of the menu. Stretch your budget by buying in bulk, and going for cheaper options like chicken and wors, or even some mince to make into hamburgers. Don’t forget the salad and/or veggies and the bread rolls, which help fill people up.
If you want to keep it traditional, milk or peppermint crisp tart, or lemon meringue pie are always winners. If you want to actually braai your dessert too, try these ideas.
Once you’ve done your planning, prepare and set everything up in advance, so you can relax and spend time with your guests when they arrive. Happy braaing!