24th September is National Heritage Day in South Africa, this public holiday was set by the government for South Africans to celebrate and enjoy our rich heritage. National Heritage Day is called something different by each culture, some call it Ukosa, others Chisa Nyama and of course Braai Day.
The one thing in common is that we all commemorate the day by lighting a fire and enjoying fabulous food. It is tradition to braai on 24th September, which is exactly what I intend to do. If you are a visitor to the county and enjoying a holiday here, I suggest you get involved in the festivities and experience a good old South African braai … there is no better day for it!
I plan on getting my friends and family over for an afternoon of fun. I am hoping the weather is good, so we can sit in the sun around a blazing fire, while we sluk (gulp) a few dops (drinks) and cook delicious food.
Everybody likes cooking something different on the braai. There must be boerewors (beef sausage), this is essential in my books, although I must confess the last few times we had a braai I got this awesome bacon and cheese sausage, don’t knock it until you have tried it, its super yummy.
Chops, chicken and garlic bread are also some of the more popular choices. If you want to spice things up a bit, you could make some sosati’s (kebabs). Get some wooden kebab sticks and shove whatever you like on them. I enjoy chicken, peppers, mushrooms, red onions and baby tomatoes on mine. Simply add one of each of your ingredients and repeat until the kebab stick is full and then marinade them if you wish.
Roasted butternut with onions and garlic is also scrumptious when done on the braai. I cut my ingredients into cubes, wrap it all up in foil and towards the end of the braai, I get my parcel on to cook. (If you are unsure when to put it on, ask the ‘braaimaster’ of the day – there is always one who is keen to step up to the braai challenge).
My wonderful boyfriend seems to be better at his braaing skills after a few bevies though (or is that just what our darling men tell us so that they can crack open a beer and light the fire while us ladies are in the kitchen marinating the meat and preparing the salad we insist they eat?).
A new favourite of mine is the ‘braai pie’, if you have not had one before, I seriously suggest you try it out. It’s fairly easy to make, all you need is a sandwich grid to place it on the braai and two rolls of puff pastry. You can fill it with whatever you like. Some people like to cook mince, onions, mushrooms, peppers and tomatoes and stuff it with that, while I prefer my chicken pie.
Cook some chicken pieces with onions, mushrooms, peppers and garlic until soft and then added spinach. Spice it however you like and once it’s done add some feta cheese. Lay out one of your pastry sheets (no need to roll it thin, leave it as it is – if its too thin, it will fall apart on the braai) and add your mixture, sprinkle the top with grated cheddar cheese and place your other layer of pastry over it.
Press the edges together to seal it and brush with egg yolk. I would suggest you make it up on the open sandwich grid just before you want to braai it, otherwise the pastry goes soggy and the filling starts to come out when it’s cooking (that happened to me, although it was still tasty!). Place it on the fire at the end when it’s not too hot, probably the same time you would have put your toasted sandwiches on. You won’t be disappointed, this is a treat of note. Once its cooked, place it on a board, cut it into squares and enjoy.
EXPLORE SOUTH AFRICA’S REGIONS
There is so much you can do on the braai, with a little imagination and a bit of experimentation you can cook just about anything. The best part about braaing is the social aspect, the great atmosphere when you are outside with your loved ones around the fire, listening to music and having some fun. So what are you waiting for … get out your braai tongs and celebrate South Africa’s National Heritage Day!