Heritage Day: Braai Edition

A South African Braai isn’t only about what’s on the grill, it’s always about the occasion.


National Heritage Day (24 September) is a public holiday in South Africa. This particular day we set aside to celebrate our rich heritage. Across race, language, region and religion, we all share one common heritage; it is called many things: “Chisa Nyama”, “Braai” and “Ukosa” to name few.

This cultural phenomenon where we light fires, roast meat (and a myriad of other ingredients) and get together is not unique to South-Africa. But we make it unique and “Proudly South African” by the way in which we do it. According to Chef Francois Ferreira the concept of “fire food” is traditionally a potjie but we emulate the States and Europe and some Eastern Countries by grilling meat on an open fire. South Africans prefer a selection of meat (and side dishes) to be prepared over an open fire – where the fat drips on the fire and makes all your neighbors jealous.

Want to find out more about Braaing around the World, click here.

Various “braai-aficionados” have surfaced in the last few years, among them the popular Jan Braai and Braai Boy. Shows featuring the barbecue-style of cooking also made the small screen, such as the Ultimate Braai Master featuring Justin Bonello, Bertus Basson & Petrus Madutlela.


TOP: National Braai Day; Jan Braai; Braai Boy BOTTOM: Ultimate Braai Master judges Petrus Madutlela, Justin Bonello & Bertus Basson

We’ve asked some industry experts to provide us with feedback on the South African braai; here’s what they had to say.

Up in flames!

Wood is a must – it gives a smoky flavor and a little bit of flame grilling. So preparing your South African braai with some indigenous wood and charcoal will provide you with the best result – unless you prefer the “quickie braai” which involves gas and less cleaning after the fact, but also results in less of an atmosphere.

Toss and Turn.

What is commonly found on a South African braai grid?

Depending on the culture; anything from chicken feet to fillet steak. With the recent “Banting wave” that hit, you can expect to see more lean cuts of meat and vegetables on the grid this braai-season. But an overall favourite among our panel of experts was the South African “boerewors” which was rated as the most likely to find its way to the braai grid! According to Chef Ulrich Kiefer “boerewors is our proud tradition, we all have our favourite and we run competitions to find the best”.

Secret Seasonings from the Experts.

Collectively all the experts agreed to “less is more” in the case of the South African braai. The addition of fresh herbs and lemon juice to larger cuts of meat as well as “season as you braai” seems to be a new trend amongst South Africans.


Top Braai Tips.

  • Know your timing and be comfortable with the different types of meat you are cooking.
  • Keep it simple!
  • Purchase good quality dry aged, or free range, meat.
  • Do not over-spice your meat.
  • Be careful of a fire that is too hot.

So, before we greet each other with a high-five around the fires with a “Howzit” and a “Karate-water & Coke” as the allocated “Braai Master” gently turns the “Boerie” and “Braai broodjies” (to toast the starter course to perfection), let’s celebrate how this proud South African tradition is shared across the country by different people and cultures on one particular day.


To see the panel of Experts” and what they had to say, click here.




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