How to Braai the South African way

One thing I have noticed is that some people complicate everything related to a braai. It should be fun where family and friends can gather around a fire and just enjoy themselves.

Keeping things simple

Lets think what we need to turn that meat into something juicy and tender that can only be enjoyed.

We need a fire for heat and a grill to place the meat on. There are fancy units available that costs thousands of Rands but do you need to spend a fortune on a Braai – I think not.

I have braai’d on cheap braais that cost less than a R100 and expensive gas braais but in essence its not really the tools that do the trick but rather the guy with the tongs in his hand.

Making the fire

This is the easiest thing to do and not to made overly complicated.

If you are using charcoal or briquettes stack the in a heap resembling a pyramid. Light a firelighter and stick it under the “pyramid” and leave it to light the charcoal. I have many times made my own firelighter by soaking some crunched up newspaper soaked in paraffin.

If you use wood the pack the wood in a pile and set alight with either a firelighter or my newspaper and paraffin method. If you are using wood you will need use quite a lot of wood for enough long lasting coals.

Leave the fire to burn until all your coals are lit and turn grey, spread them out evenly and you are ready to braai!

Different Heat for Different Meat

Initially the heat from the charcoal or coals will be extremely hot and not suitable for meat like chicken, pork chop, lamb chops etc. but perfect for those steaks.

I love my steak medium rare and the initial heat is ideal for the perfect sear on the outside and juicy tender meat inside. Leave it a few minutes longer and its well done.

For pork and lamb chops you need medium heat and chicken medium to low heat. I usually build the fire on one side of the braaier and spread enough lit charcoal to the area under the grill for the chicken. If the heat starts dying down I just move more of the lit charcoal under the chicken.

Preparing the meat and how to braai

Just like with my recipes in the kitchen I never use excessive spices or marinades on the meat. When I eat meat, I want to taste the meat and not something else. I love the salty taste of meat and have no desire to change the taste or make it sweet.


If we are braaing steak I normally purchase good quality rump, T-bone or similar. Matured meat is a bonus. On steak I just use salt and pepper. Use coarse salt to sprinkle over the one side together with ground pepper and press into the meat. Turn over and repeat and that’s it. I don’t use any further spices.

Place the steak on the grill over a hot fire and about 7 minutes later you have a medium rare steak. The time taken depends on the thickness of the meat but just cut a corner off to test … that is my braaiers privilege – to taste the meat for perfection. 🙂

Pork Chops

To spice pork chops I use coarse salt and ground pepper pressed into the meat together with a braai or barbecue spice.

Once on the fire and after the first turn I drop a few drops of Worcester sauce on the chops. Not too much though, just want to enhance the flavor of the meat not change it.

How to braai Chicken and Chicken Wings

Chicken is also a meat that has to be eaten well done and not bloody or slimy against the bones. When cooking big pieces of chicken or a “Flatty” I normally precook it in the kitchen. Place the chicken in a pot with a small amount of water and lemon juice. Place the pot on the stove at a low to medium heat and leave for approximately an hour.

Once you are satisfied that it has cooked through, take out and spice with salt, pepper, chicken spice and in my case Cayenne pepper. Place on the braai over medium to low heat and let it do its thing.

I love my chicken wings hot so I will marinade them in a chilli or such like marinade for a few hours and place on the braai – no need to precook. Turn often to prevent the marinade from burning. Once the fat runs clear and is not bloody, they are normally done.

How to braai conclusion

There you have it! having a braai is a favorite way to prepare food in South Africa. There is no much that can be done on a braai like potato’s, onions and the famous “Braaibroodtjies”. Just have fun and keep it simple.