What Is Braai? South Africa’s National Pastime Explained!

What Is Braai? South Africa's National Pastime Explained!

Braai, also known as a barbecue, is a popular social activity in South Africa. It involves the grilling of meat and other food items over an open fire, often outdoors. It is a popular way of socializing and sharing a meal with family and friends. The word “braai” is derived from the Afrikaans word for roast, “braaivleis”. A braai usually consists of boerewors (South African sausage), steak, lamb chops, chicken, and other types of meat. Vegetables and salads are also typically served alongside the grilled items. Braais are usually accompanied by alcoholic beverages, and can be held anywhere from a beach to a backyard. It is a great way to spend time with family and friends, and is an integral part of South African culture.

What Is Braai In South Africa

Braai, or barbeque, is an integral part of South African culture. It is a social gathering where friends and family come together to share a meal and good company. The traditional braai, or barbecue, is a wood-fired fire pit where meat is cooked over an open flame. The meat is usually marinated and seasoned with a unique blend of herbs and spices. A braai is a time for people to come together and celebrate life, share stories and create unforgettable memories. It is a time for people to enjoy the outdoors and connect with one another. Whether it’s a small gathering or a large one, braai is a time-honored tradition that brings people together and creates an unforgettable experience.

Origins of Braai

Braai, or barbecuing as it is known in the West, is a revered tradition in South Africa. Dating back centuries, braai has its roots in ancient African customs, with tribes gathering around the fire to feast and celebrate. The word ‘braai’ is derived from the Afrikaans word ‘braaivleis’, which translates to ‘roasted meat’.

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The original braai was conducted over an open fire, usually with wood as the fuel source. This was a common practice among the indigenous Bushmen, who would use their skills as hunters and gatherers to catch and cook their game. This tradition of braaiing was also passed down to the Khoisan people, who lived in southern Africa.

During the colonial period, the braai was adopted by the Dutch and British settlers, who would augment the traditional braai with the addition of their own ingredients such as sauces, spices, and marinades. This was the start of the braai culture that is alive and well today.

What Is Braai? South Africa's National Pastime Explained!

Throughout the years, South Africans have embraced the braai, using it as a way to socialize and bond with family and friends. It has become a prominent feature in South African culture, with some of the most iconic braai dishes being boerewors (sausage), sosaties (marinated kebabs), and droë wors (dried sausage).

Today, braai culture is alive and well in South Africa, with many South Africans participating in braai gatherings every day. As the years have gone by, the braai has evolved, with many South Africans now using gas or charcoal braais instead of the traditional open fires. But no matter how the braai is cooked, the tradition of gathering around the fire to share food and conversation is still very much alive.

Common Braai Dishes

Braai is a popular cooking method in South Africa that has been around for centuries. It is celebrated as a social gathering, often around a fire pit or on a traditional braai stand. The term braai is derived from the Afrikaans phrase for “barbecue”, which is “braaivleis”. Although braai may not have been around since the dawn of time, it has certainly become an important part of South African culture.

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Braai is usually made up of an open fire and a grill. The fire is usually made up of charcoal or wood, and the grill is often made of cast iron or steel. The meat is then cooked over the fire, and can range from steaks and chops, to boerewors (a type of sausage), to fish, and even vegetables. It is usually served with sides such as pap (maize porridge), chakalaka (a spicy relish), and sous (a tomato-based sauce).

In South Africa, common braai dishes are often referred to as “braai”. This means that these dishes are often cooked over a fire and are usually served with a side of pap or sous. Some of the most popular braai dishes include: boerewors, steaks, chops, potjiekos (a stew cooked in a large pot over the fire), and skilpadjies (lamb-filled parcels of onion and herbs).

Braai is an important part of South African culture, and is enjoyed by people of all ages. The combination of the fire, the food, and the social gathering make it a memorable experience. Whether you’re having a large gathering or a small one, braai is sure to make it a special occasion.

What Is Braai? South Africa's National Pastime Explained!

Braai Etiquette

Braai, the South African word for barbecue, is a beloved social activity that brings friends and family together in a uniquely South African way. It’s a tradition that dates back centuries and has become a part of the culture and national identity. But while the act of braai itself is straightforward, there are a few rules and etiquette involved to ensure the most enjoyable experience for everyone.

To begin, it is important to remember that the braai master is in charge. This person is responsible for tending to the fire and the grilling, so it is expected that other guests will step back and let the master do their job. Guests should come prepared to help out, however, by bringing the necessary supplies and ingredients, as well as offering to help with the setup and cleanup.

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When it comes to the fire, safety is key. Braai masters should be careful to keep the fire contained and away from any objects that could catch on fire. It is also important to have a bucket of water nearby, just in case. Additionally, braai masters should take the time to season their grills and make sure they are properly oiled, to ensure that the food doesn’t stick and that it cooks evenly.

When it is time to start grilling, it is important to be mindful of the different cooking times for different foods. For example, red meats require longer cooking times than white meats, and vegetables tend to cook quickly. If a braai is for multiple people, it is important to plan accordingly so that all of the food is done at the same time.

Finally, the most important part of braai etiquette is to be respectful and considerate of other guests. As with any gathering, it is important to be mindful of others’ dietary restrictions and to provide a variety of options that can accommodate everyone. Additionally, it is important to be mindful of the conversation and to respect the feelings and beliefs of others.

Braai is a beloved South African tradition that brings friends and family together in a unique and special way. With a few basic rules and etiquette, braai can be an enjoyable and memorable experience for everyone.



The braai is a traditional barbecue in South Africa. It is a popular way to cook meat and is usually enjoyed outdoors.

Austin Finnan

Austin Finnan is a blogger, traveler, and author of articles on the website aswica.co.za. He is known for his travels and adventures, which he shares with his readers on his blog. Finnan has always been passionate about exploring new places, which is reflected in his articles and photographs. He is also the author of several books about travel and adventure, which have received positive reviews from critics and readers.

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