People often ask me “so what is the difference between an English BBQ and a South African braai?” They both involve the cooking of meat outdoors over an open fire, and yes you can make an argument that the type of meat you cook is the distinguishing feature (because pork sausages and burgers will never feature at a proper South African braai!). But I think the real distinction lies not in the menu but in the attitude. A barbecue probably will be rescheduled if it rains – a braai probably will not. (My husband braaied in the snow one year in January. Fact.) A barbecue will usually feature enough meat to feed all the invited guests. A braai will feature enough meat to feed the entire postcode, plus some extra (just in case!). A barbecue will probably involve a sensible number of guests so that there will be enough proper plates and cutlery for everybody. A braai, on the other hand, expands to accept family, friends, kids, hangers-on, and possibly pets of invited guests. (At our Big South African Braai last weekend we had 21 adults and 3 kids. Paper plates were in use, clearly.)
So what goes on at a Big South African Braai in London? Come and have a peek how ours went down last weekend:
Firstly, there were people here, people there, people EVERYWHERE!
There was a whole lotta hugging going on…
There was some GRINNING…
There was a lot of GRILLING… (Cecil’s famous lamb sosaties below!)
Photo courtesy of my dear friend Cecil
And then there was a whole lot of lip-smacking eating…
Can there be a better way to spend a summer afternoon?
Sadly, I can’t invite ALL of you over to my house for a braai, but I can invite you to join me in celebrating South Africa’s National Braai Day again this year with my annual braai/BBQ event Braai, the Beloved Country – please scroll down below the recipe to see how to enter!
But… man cannot live by barbecued meat alone. He shall also have… salads! Last
weekend we served guests a big green salad; a spinach, roasted butternut squash, feta cheese and pine nut salad; and something I’ve been meaning to tackle for ages and ages: a watermelon and feta cheese salad. When I initally heard of this salad, I thought it sounded like a totally ridiculous mishmash for the sake of novelty; but eventually it developed into an obsession – something I had to make. I first saw it as a recipe in Nigella Lawson’s Forever Summer, which is why I am submitting it to Helen of Fuss Free Flavours who is the host this month’s pinic-themed Forever Nigella event, founded by the lovely Sarah of Maison Cupcake. Nigella’s version calls for red onion (which I forgot to buy – eek!) and uses lime juice instead of vinegar in the dressing, but otherwise this is pretty faithful to her recipe. Do suspend your disbelief and try it. Many of my guests were slightly suspicious but were hooked after the first bite, and it was the first of the three salads to be polished off! You’ll have to take my word for the fact that the combination of flavours and textures is quite heavenly – but you can see for yourselves how gorgeous it is 🙂
Other bloggers being creative with watermelon include:
- Barbara’s watermelon salsa
- Margot’s watermelon, lime and rosemary drink
- Courtney’s watermelon rind preserves
WATERMELON, FETA CHEESE, BLACK OLIVE AND BASIL SALAD (serves 10)
Small ripe watermelon (1.5-2kg)
250g feta cheese, cubed or crumbled
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
200g pitted black olives, sliced
4.5 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons raspberry vinegar (or other sweet fruity vinegar – not balsamic!)
Cut the watremelon flesh into bite-sized chunks (I removed most of the seeds but this is up to you). In a large bowl, toss together the watermelon, feta, olives and basil. Whisk together the oil and vinegar and pour over the salad just before serving, tossing to coat everything. Add black pepper to taste.
And now, on to how you can enter Braai the Beloved Country! I would love for you to share your favourite braai or BBQ recipes with me – it can be meat, fish, vegetables, breads, stews – in fact anything that you can cook over an outdoor fire or grill, South African inspired or not. Then on 24 September, I will post a round-up of all the recipes in a big celebration of summery outdoor cooking. And as it’s an annual event, I will even let you submit favourite recipes you have posted previously in 2011 – as long as you repost them as a new post between now and the end of September 2011.
So let’s fire up the grill and have a look at the rules:
1. Post a braai/barbecue recipe between now and 23 September. Your choice of recipes is really broad – meat, chicken, fish, vegetables, breads – as long as you cooked it over coals or an outdoor grill.
2. You must link to this announcement in your post.
3. Multiple recipes and recipes submitted to other events are permitted.
4. Recipes from your 2011 archives can be accepted but you MUST re-post them in a new post dated between 22 August and 23 September 2011, and link to this announcement.
5. Use of the Braai, the Beloved Country logo is optional but would be nice. Ask me if you want code for a badge in your sidebar.
6. A photo is preferred, but not essential.
7. Send me an e-mail (emailcooksister AT gmail DOT com) with BRAAI in the subject line and containing: your name; your blog name; the recipe title; and the URL of the post that the recipe appeared in. Attach a photo if you can.
I will post a roundup of all the recipes on 24 September to coincide with National Braai Day.