Let’s fire it up, South Africa

Celebrity chef and entrepreneur Mogau Seshoene, better known as the ‘The Lazy Makoti’, says braaiing is South Africa’s ‘love language’.

Only a few things can unite South Africans the way gathering around a fire to cook meat over hot coals – known to all of us as braaiing – can.

A braai seems to fit any occasion or celebration, be it a birthday, an office farewell, an intimate wedding or just a simple weekend get-together with friends. It really is a ‘love language’ that everyone gets, and for a country with 11 official languages, that is something truly special.

Braaiing is so intrinsically South African that some people even tried to name a public holiday after it, and that is why Heritage Day on September 24 – which embraces our unique culture and heritage – is also unofficially celebrated as National Braai Day.

The intertwining of these days shows how great our nation’s love is for the national pastime of standing around hot coals, beer in hand, sharing a great story or laugh, while the familiar, smoky smell of a sizzling steak or our award-winning, one-of-a-kind sausage (aka boerewors) hangs enticingly in the air.

The incredible South African weather greatly aids the popularity of braais, with most days so warm and welcoming that they’re instant invites to enjoy the outdoors. It is no wonder we braai as much as we do.

Of course, it also helps that we have some of the best-quality meat in the world, coupled with our signature relish, chakalaka.

Chakalaka is a simple sauce that is best served as an accompaniment to braai meat and pap. It is a relish that in itself celebrates and is inspired by one the country’s key values: ubuntu. How, you may wonder. Well, the origins of chakalaka are said to be in the mine hostels where miners would gazata – put together whatever ingredients they each had and combine them to create a meal they could share.

The result went on to become a national treasure – a simple, delicious combination of onion, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, carrots and, sometimes, even baked beans, best enjoyed with friends on a hot summer’s day, and served alongside a generous serving of braaied meat.

The love of braai meat and the culture of hanging out around a fire gave birth to another South African phenomenon – the shisa nyama. These are popular hangouts where people congregate to buy a simple meal and enjoy music, laughter and possibly a drink or two.

On days when you wake up and all you want is braaied meat, shisa nyamas are your saving grace!

About Mogau Seshoene

Mogau is a Brand South Africa’s Play Your Part Ambassador and chef. Her ‘The Lazy Makoti’ platform was launched in 2014 and contributes to the celebration of South African heritage through cuisine. South Africans have supported Mogau in her endeavour to not only fly the country’s flag high, but also positively contribute to the lives of minority groups from communities across the country. It is her innovative nature that she perfectly partners with the spirit of ubuntu that made her the perfect candidate for Brand South Africa’s Play Your Part Ambassador programme.

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