Time to fire up the braai

By admin
04 September 2013

Our food blogger Sarah Graham shares some of her favourite braai recipes.

The sun staying up longer each day – and determinedly breaking through the cold and bringing warmer weather and so coaxing us outdoors again – means one very significant thing in South Africa. And it's something I like rather a lot. It means we have a sudden, unstoppable urge to clean off the braai grids and put food on the flames again.

I love that braaiing is so much more than cooking food over hot coals in South Africa. It's a treasured national pastime, an exquisitely simple, magical way to bring people together. Although I'm aware our much adored National Braai Day is a few weeks away, I thought I'd whet your appetite and get your taste buds tingling with what's to come. I mean, if we take braaiing so seriously, we should practise, right?

A really good BBQ chicken comes close to being the holy grail of braai fare. I know lamb chops and boerie and lip-lekker steaks have pride of place too. However, there's something about a chicken done just right (by this I mean a butterflied bird, basted with classic home-brewed BBQ sauce and cooked until beautifully tender) that takes an army to keep me from devouring it before the time would be considered polite.

So, here’s my version, in a nifty little step-by-step format (including how to butterfly the bird).

Our Favourite Home-Brewed BBQ Chicken


1 whole chicken, spatchcock style, or 8 mixed chicken pieces, skin on

(preferably free range)

How to turn a whole chicken into a flattie

1 Lay the chicken down so that the drumsticks are on top.

2 Cut along the breastbone with kitchen scissors. (Most recipes recommend cutting down the breast bone, but I find this much easier.)

3 Pull the chicken apart and lay it flat on a roasting tray.

4 Pour over your blooming’ brilliant BBQ sauce (recipe below).

BBQ sauce

2 T olive oil

2 T tomato ketchup

2 T balsamic vinegar

1 T runny honey

1 T lemon juice

1 t Dijon mustard

1 t wholegrain mustard

1 t chilli flakes or 1 fresh chilli, deseeded and chopped

1 t paprika

½ t dried coriander

½ t cinnamon

½ t aniseed

½ t dried thyme

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

generous pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix together in a mixing jug and add 2 T hot water to loosen the mixture


1 Baste the chicken in the BBQ mixture and leave to stand in the fridge for as long as possible before cooking. (Covered with cling film and rested overnight in the fridge is even better, but not essential). Remove from the fridge and bring to room temperature about

20 minutes before cooking.

2 Preheat your BBQ (roughly medium-high heat if it is gas and has adjustable temperatures). Cook on the grill for 30-35 minutes with the lid down if you have one, turning half way, until cooked through. Remember to keep basting with any extra sauce every 10 minutes or so during the cooking process.

3 Remove and serve with a side of your choice. I like sweet potato wedges and a small crunchy side salad, or even simple fresh bread rolls with a good mayonnaise and slices of chicken piled high.

Also, a couple of non-meaty braai recipes

Roasted Butternut and Lentil Salad



1 medium-sized butternut, about 750 g, cut in half

1-2 T olive oil

½ t ground cumin

½ t ground coriander

1 can lentils (in water not brine), drained

½ red onion

1 T chopped fresh mint (or coriander if you prefer)

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


2 T olive oil

3 T balsamic vinegar

squeeze of fresh lemon juice

1-2 t runny honey

chopped fresh chilli (optional)


1. Preheat your braai grill (or stoke that fire boet!). In a microwave-proof dish, microwave the butternut on high for 9-10 minutes until cooked through and can be easily pierced with a knife.

2. Drizzle the butternut with 1-2 T olive oil and coat with the spices. Put the dish with the butternut onto a baking sheet covered with a double layer of tinfoil (this defers some of the heat) and place on your braai grid. Cook a further 15 minutes with the lid down, then remove the butternut from the dish and cook 1-2 minutes directly on the grid to add more braai flavour. (Alternatively, just cook at 180 ºC in your oven.)

3. In a bowl, add the lentils, chopped red onion and then rough chunks of the roasted butternut. Stir through the mint or coriander and the dressing and season well with salt and pepper.

Roasted Brandied Clementines


4 clemengolds, halved, with peel intact (or oranges, naartjies, nectarines or peaches)

4 t brandy

8 t muscovado sugar

vanilla-bean ice cream, to serve

You will also need a baking tray lined with a double layer of tinfoil.


1. Pre-heat your braai grill to med-high. When it’s hot, place each clemengold half cut-side down and grill for about 45seconds – 1 minute or until just lightly charred. Remove and place the clemengold halves in an ovenproof baking dish, cut side facing up.

2. Sprinkle each half with a little brandy and muscovado sugar. Place the baking dish on your lined baking sheet on your BBQ grill, or under your oven grill and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the sugar has melted and the clemengolds are just starting to bubble.

3. Remove from the heat and serve immediately with the vanilla-bean ice cream.

Tip: Using a sharp paring knife, slice around the inside of each clemengold skin so that the segments are loose before you cook them, this will make them easier to remove, which means you’ll be able to get to them faster. Believe me, they’re so delicious that things could get messy.

Abbreviations: T = tablespoon t = teaspoon

-  Sarah Graham

Sarah Gramah is a food blogger, cookbook author and cooking show host. You can read more of Sarah’s thoughts on her blog. You can buy her cookbook bitten in major bookstores in South Africa and online via her website. Watch her TV show, “bitten – Sarah Graham Cooks Cape Town” on Sundays at 4 pm on SABC3.

More from Sarah:

Sarah Graham blogs for us

Sarah Graham: Moving forward

Souped up

What’s with all the baking?

A taste of spring

Find Love!