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Braai or not to braai

In South Africa, there’s never a question of whether or not to have a braai. Every major life event in South Africa, from birthdays to graduations to engagements and national holidays, is marked by a braai. It’s a time to bond with loved ones over a hearty meal and some crackling flames. The campfire braai is also an essential part of any camping trip.

The origins of Braai

The South African word for barbeque, “braaivleis,” is a compound of the Afrikaans words for “to grill” (braai) and “meat” (vleis).
The Dutch colonialists introduced the braai to South Africa. Although no formal evidence exists, it is possible that the name “Braai” originated from the Dutch word “Braden”, which means roast. Although its etymology is unclear, we hardly waste any time discussing it at a braai.
Today, it is a generic term for any outdoor event where meat is cooked on a barbecue. It is a word that unites all speakers of South African languages in a shared sense of pride. The most important thing about braai is the delicious preparation of the meat.
In South African homes, braai is universal. This is a gathering of people. Having a braai is a great excuse to get together with loved ones and celebrate a variety of special occasions.

What is Braai?

As mentioned, braai is the South African equivalent of a barbeque. Cooking with wood is preferred because it enhances the meat’s natural flavour more than charcoal does. As a second choice, charcoal isn’t likely to win over purists. Gas is also an option but, it is important to remember that a gas grill is not officially seen as a way to braai in South Africa.
The Braai host is responsible for keeping the fire going and braaing the meat. This requires caution and comes with heavy responsibility. Guests usually congregate around the braai with wine, beer, or brandy with coke in hand. Awe fills the air as they watch the braai master doing his magic and flip the meat on the grill.

What is the cultural significance of Braai?

The average South African braai’s once a week, and they don’t need much of an excuse to do it. Some people braai on Christmas and other holidays because it’s tradition, and others do it on Sundays because it’s pleasant. There’s always a good reason to fire up the grill.
It has become a custom. Braaing is one of the few activities in South Africa that is enjoyed by all South Africans, regardless of language, colour, or culture. They all share a common appreciation for meat roasted over an open fire.
Braais can be enjoyed in any season, not just summer. Rainy days are no problem for many South Africans because they may braai under cover. A lot of them also have indoor grilling spaces.

When do you braai?

There is no right time to braai. You can do it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even at midnight. There is no set time limit for a South African barbecue. South Africans can braai for every meal, from breakfast to supper, every day of the week, and sometimes even after a night out on the town.

A braai is all about having a good time and catching up with friends, a combination of everything South Africans love. A braai also often revolves around another event, like a rugby match, ensuring a lively atmosphere.

There are also certain rules to follow. Backseat braaing is highly frowned upon at most braais, as there is typically only one “braaier”. Every braaier has their own arsenal of tools and techniques, and it may be unwritten that no one is allowed to tell them otherwise.

What is served at a Braai?

The amount of food is uncanny. There’s no shortage of food at a braai. Expect an overabundance of meat, salads, and braaibroodjies, which is a glorified-toasted sandwich made with bread, cheese, onion, and tomato.

Biltong along with droëwors is a must at a braai. It can be made of beef, ostrich, or a variety of game such as kudu, impala, and wildebeest. The usual snacks like chips with a dip made of snoek or liver pate, avocado and hummus are quite popular.

Meat is your main dish which always include boerwors. The rest could be made up with lamb chops, steak that can be sirloin, t-bone or fillet. Chicken served as chicken pieces, a flatty or chicken kebabs. South African can be very inventive when it comes to braaing something special and different.
Seafood is also a popular braai dish and could consist of any kind of fish, prawns, or crayfish tails. Tuna and snoek is quite popular when they are cooked over sizzling hot coals.

There are also many side dishes to add to a braai. The original “krummelpap” with sheba is still very popular with all South Africans. The braaibroodjie with all kinds of fillings. Potatoes in all forms, whether it is as a salad, served with garlic or cooked in the fire within its skin and served with butter or sour cream.
Don’t forget the sauces. South Africa has incredible sauces, such as Peri-Peri, garlic, chili and chutneys that make great accompaniments.

Off cause no braai can take place without enjoying some wine, beer, or any other preferred drink. It has become very popular is to invite your friends for a “chop and dop” braai, where everyone brings their own meat and drink, and the host provides the side dishes.


Going camping at OppiDam Resort? Be sure to bring along everything you need for a braai. The surrounding area is ideal and you might just be lucky enough to catch some freshwater fish that can also be added to the braai in the evening.

Visit the website at www.oppidam.co.za

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