When it comes to South African food culture, we stand truly united behind the Braai and as families, and during the summer season we have an even better excuse to get together over the fire. A braai is a happy place for us to gather, a way for us to celebrate hot days spent splashing by the pool, as the food sizzles away under your braai masters’ watchful eye.
Cookbook author, culinary creator and celebrity baker Grace Stevens says that after having the privilege of braaiing all over South Africa, she has learnt that the thing that makes South African braai culture so incredible is that every region has its own delicacy.
Here are some of Grace’s favourite prepare-ahead braai day treats:
Fig & Blue Cheese Skewers
These delicious, sweet and savoury skewers are a fantastic appetiser and an alternative for vegetarians that puts dry vegetable patties to shame. Roasting fruit over the open fire encourages a sticky caramelisation that balances the strength of the blue cheese perfectly, and the walnuts add a nutty crunch.
Nothing is more South African than biltong and this stokbrood uses the biltong powder and fresh thyme in the dough to create a delicious herby and meaty flavour. For Grace, one of her favourite braai experiences as a kid involved stokbrood and she can remember delighting in the feeling of ‘survivalist’ cooking as she twirled her dough -wrapped stick over open coals. To this day her favourite braai moment is sliding the cooked bread off the stick and filling the space left with a delicious piece of boerewors for the best kind of homemade boerie roll.
Cheese and onion braai bread
Based on the best cheese and onion braai broodjies she ever had, this loaf incorporates fresh dough, onions and a sprinkling of cheese to create the perfect companion to any South African summer feast. The onions are kneaded into the dough itself, gifting their delicious juices and adding flavourful steam that makes the loaf fluffy and delicious. And just like those legendary braai broodjies of the Eastern Cape, these should be served with a generous slathering of butter.
Lemon Verbena Gin Lollies
Long summer days full of sunshine, fresh fruit, and braaivleis deserve the perfect cooling cocktail. These Lemon Verbena Gin ice lollies are a refreshing way to add a little cheek to your weekend and are a revelation in natural botanical flavours. Using one of South Africa’s splendid craft gins gives you the option to add in so many more flavours, from orange to ginger, buchu to rooibos.
This delicious creamy strawberry ice-cream is perfect on a hot summer’s day and can be served with fresh fruit, chocolate sauce, crushed up meringue or over your favourite warm pudding. The strawberries can easily be substituted for any of the bounty of fresh produce we have in-season to make a refreshing treat.
From Cape Town’s cheese and tomato broodjies to the pap, wors and chakalaka of Gauteng, South African braai cuisine is a celebration of culture coming together with the best fresh produce that our wonderful country has to offer.
These easy, cook-ahead meals are spectacular served cold on a blistering day, or at room temperature, and are relaxing both for the family and the cook and guarantee that you can spend more time with the ones you love.
Regardless of culture, age or race, the braai brings us together on common ground. When we walk into a friend’s home and see the spectacular array of colourful salads and sides, smell the smokey scent of meat on the fire and hear the laughter of our families, we are reminded of how wonderful it is to be South African.
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