How to Prepare the Perfect South African Braai

Change up your next barbecue with these mouth-watering recipes from the Rainbow Nation

Summer is finally here, ringing in the lazy-day season, and what better way to celebrate these golden days than gathering around the grill? Whether you call it a BBQ, a barbie, or a braai, this tradition unites us all in a celebration of summer!

I think we all agree that there is nothing quite like the aroma of burgers sizzling on the grill. Why not change it up a bit and venture to the Rainbow Nation for a safari of the senses?

Braaivleis (pronounced bry-flace), or braai for short, is Afrikaans for “grilling meat over an open fire.” This word is used endearingly by all South Africans, no matter their home tongue—which in South Africa can be one of 11 official languages.

Choosing the right meats

Tender cuts of meat are best suited to this style of dry-heat cooking. The quintessential South African braai consists of sosaties made with lamb chops, steak, and traditional sausage or boerewors (sausage prepared with beef and lamb and seasoned with scorched and crushed coriander seeds).

Nowhere is South Africa’s diversity better illustrated than in the fruity, tangy sosatie. This Malay-influenced dish is the perfect example of blending cultures to forge a unique South African cuisine. It’s a simple dish of curry-marinated meat chunks alternately skewered with onions, bay leaves, and dried apricots, and it’s sure to become a family favorite.

Curry and other spicy foods can be intimidating to the unfamiliar palate. For the daring, the curry marinade for sosaties can be pungent and fiery. If you are not accustomed to the piquancy of curry, tailor the recipe to meet your preference by reducing the curry powder and omitting the chile pepper.


If sosaties are on the menu, it is essential to plan ahead. Prepare the marinade and allow it to cool fully before pouring over the meat. The marinade can be cooked and stored successfully in the fridge for up to three days. For best results, the meat should be marinated for at least 12 hours, preferably 24, using a glass, plastic, or ceramic container. Soak the bamboo skewers in water prior to use to prevent scorching during cooking. Broil the sosaties over moderately hot coals to allow them to be cooked but not scorched. All that’s left is to dig in and enjoy!


Cape Malay Sosaties

Makes 6 servings

For the marinade

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1–2 tablespoons medium curry powder
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger root or 1 teaspoon dried ginger
1 teaspoon freshly grated or
½ teaspoon dried turmeric
½ chile pepper, seeded (optional)
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1–2 tablespoons brown sugar or apricot jam
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup milk

For the sosaties

3½ pounds boneless leg of lamb, chicken, or pork, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large onion, cut into chunks
16–20 dried apricots (optional)
12 bamboo skewers

To make the marinade

Heat the oil over medium heat in a sauté pan.

Add the onions and garlic and cook until translu-cent. Add the curry powder, ginger, turmeric, chile pepper, bay leaves, cinnamon, and black pepper and cook for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Add the sugar and vinegar and cook over low heat for

5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before adding the milk. The mixture will curdle slightly. Pour into a shallow glass, ceramic, or plastic bowl and allow to cool.

To make the sosaties

Add the meat and onion chunks to the marinade and mix to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight, turning once or twice.

Arrange the meat, onion chunks, and apricots alternately onto skewers. Cook slowly over mod-erate heat, turning once or twice to allow even cooking. Once golden brown, remove from the heat, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Alternatives: Substitute mango juice for the milk. Fresh bay leaves can be skewered with meat to enhance flavor.


Marinated Green Bean Salad

Marinated Green Bean Salad

Makes 6 servings

For the vinaigrette

6 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons balsamic or wine vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon honey or brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the salad

1½ pounds fresh green beans
2 carrots, cut into strips
½ teaspoon salt
1 red pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1 onion, thinly sliced

To make the vinaigrette

Mix all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a jar. Shake vigorously to emulsify.

To make the salad

Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a 12” saucepan. Add the beans, carrots, and salt and cook for 5 minutes. Remove and shock in an ice bath to halt the cooking process. Drain and set aside.

Pour the vinaigrette into a serving bowl. Add the bean-and-carrot mixture and toss to coat. Top with the pepper and onion. Refrigerate and serve cold.

South African Corn on the Cob with Black Pepper and Paprika

Corn on the Cob

Makes 6 servings

Olive oil
6 young ears of corn, cornsilk removed but husks intact
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Dash of smoked paprika
Butter, for serving

Preheat the grill. Brush the grill with oil and place the corn on the grill, cooking over indirect heat for 20 to 30 minutes, turning regularly. Pull back the husks and season with salt, pepper, and paprika. Serve with butter while steaming hot.

Suggestion: You can also remove both husks and silk before grilling. Place the corn in a large resealable bag, add oil and seasoning, and seal. Tumble to coat. Remove from the bag and grill as described above.

Caramel Dumplings with Walnuts

Caramel Dumplings with Walnuts

Makes 6 servings

For the syrup

1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon butter
Pinch of salt

For the dumplings

½ cup butter, melted
½ cup smooth apricot jelly
1½ cups cake flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
½ cup chopped dates
¼ cup chopped glazed cherries (optional)
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ cup milk

To make the syrup

In a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat, bring the sugar and butter to a boil and cook until the sugar is a rich golden brown. Do not stir. The syrup cooks at high temperature and can change color rapidly. In a separate saucepan, bring 3 cups water to a boil. Stir the boiling water and salt into the sugar mixture and heat over low heat until the sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from the heat and keep warm

To make the dumplings

In a small bowl, mix the butter and jelly. In a separate large mixing bowl, sift together the flour and salt and then mix in the nuts, dates, and cherries. Using a small measuring cup, dissolve the baking soda in the milk. Alternately add the jelly and milk mixtures to the flour mixture, just until the batter comes together.

In a 12” heavy-based saucepan, bring the syrup to a rolling boil. Carefully add golf ball–sized spoonfuls of batter in a single layer (approximately 12). Cover with a tight-fitting lid and allow to steam over low heat for approximately 20 minutes. Do not remove the lid before the end of the cooking time.

Suggestion: Prepare the dumplings in a cast-iron saucepan on the grill, but set to the side on low heat to allow to steam.

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