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How to make a good braai

Unread post by Meandering Mouse » Tue Mar 06, 2007 8:16 am

Having read a couple of postings, I realise that many people do not know the secret to setting up a good braai.
I must admit, I include myself there. :redface:
I have had many charcholed meat bits or "raw in the middle chickens" :?
I am learning.
I am sure there are aso many forumites who could give some good tips to non Saffie folks (and folks like MM).
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Unread post by Loams » Tue Mar 06, 2007 9:03 am

Great topic MM

Ok, its simple really

It all starts with your fire. Dont build a "flat" fire", build it as high as you can. This ensures consistant heat throughout your coals. Fires that are built "low" tends to be too cold.

Rule #1
Buy quality meat. If you buy second grade meat, your starting point is all wrong
Rule #2
If you cannot hold your hand 20cm from the fire for ten seconds it is too hot!!!! Have another beer and wait before you throw your meat on there!

Boerewors and steak.
Hot Fire, braai quick. Depending on how you like your steak done, depends on cooking time.

To tell how well a steak is cooked do the following:
Put your pinkie tip on your thumb tip. With your other hand, touch the base of your thumb, in your palm. The "stiffness" you feel there is how a well done steak should feel when you touch it. Going down with the rest of your fingers (touching your thumb tip on their tip)will indicate degrees of meat that is less cooked. Your index finger touching thumb being rare...

A medium fire works well with Chops, but never ever leave them unattended. Because they are fatty, they tend to spark fires the minute you turn your back.

And please please please... Never ever kill the flames with water, your chops are likely to get tough. Use beer, or move the chops to another part of your fire

Medium fire... slow going and it takes a while.
What I do with my chickens is to put them to the side of the fire, not directly over the coals for the first ten minutes. When the fire is nice and cool, I give it about 20 minutes or so directly over the fire. It is important to note that you must not blacken your chicken. If your chicken goes black over the coals, put it to the side and let it go there a bit longer.

Keys here are:
#1. Slow,
#2 long

Precooked ribs go with warm fire but not too hot, braai quick until warm throughout and nice and brown outside.
With uncooked ribs follow same rules as you do for chicken

The biggest challenge with braaing is when you have a combination of the above...... To become a braai king takes practice and time. But hey, sometimes you get it right, sometimes you get it wrong ;-) experiment, but this should serve as a good starting point ;-)
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Unread post by DuQues » Tue Mar 06, 2007 10:03 am

Build it up high yes, but on one side only. That way you have a cooler area where you can "park" meats that are done, but have to wait a little before serving.
Don't salt your meat before cooking, or stick it the whole time with forks and such. That will suck the fluids out of the meat, making it less tender.
Let the meat rest a little wrapped in tinfoil while you prepare your plates (and the wine). That will enhance the taste of the meat.
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Unread post by kathy sa » Sun Mar 11, 2007 4:58 pm

The only way to make a braai in the Kruger Park is to use Kruger Park wood.. bought in the shop!
If we have a braai at home with wood we always call it a KP braai! I can smell it now!!

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Unread post by amanzi » Mon Mar 12, 2007 9:51 am

Wood all the way.

And not sommer enige wood, proper wood like Sekelbos or Hardekool (if you can afford it) will do.

If you really want to be fancy, and make sure you have enough heat for something like chicken, place your wood on top of a thin bead of charcoal, that way you have the ambience created by the wood fire, and the extra heat from the charcoal :wink:
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Unread post by Niceone » Mon Mar 19, 2007 8:22 pm

A true legendary braai HAS to use wood ! The food just tastes better !!!!

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Unread post by pardus » Mon Apr 02, 2007 10:13 pm

There's only one charcoal, and it's called Gravelotte Charcoal - sold in the Park Shops - it works like a charm and produces the same taste as a wood fire, only faster (especially if you start it with nail varnish remover....)

I do not support the people selling wood on the way to Kruger, I am very dubious about where the wood is sourced.

One hint about braaing chicken - I always cook it slowly in a pot with lemon, olive oil, wine and chilly for a bit before slapping it onto the coals - it reduces braaing time, burning and pinky, raw bits close to the bone. Use the liquid in the pot to baste the kippy whilst on the coals.

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Unread post by Perks. » Mon Jun 04, 2007 9:20 am

Oi Vey! :roll: :roll:

Braai fire needs air, so making one in some sort of container that has no draught through, is the only reason I can think of, that you had such lousy braai success rate.

I'm also staggered you got a braai going in Durban... Natalians not renowned for braai-making! ;)

Tips for easy braai...
- Use paraffin-based firelighters, don't f@nny about with those Striker things, or self-found kindling. A good wodge around 10 x 4 cm is ample for getting it going. A master will get a fire going with a quarter of that. Break said firelighter wodge into about three or four smaller bits.
- Start with around a dozen briquettes or sufficient charcoal just to loosely surround the firelighters
- Fire her up. Use tongs or a stick to loosely cover the now burning firelighters with coal / briquettes. Or if you're adding wood, place the wood (chopped up, don't use yooge logs to start with) on.
- After about fifteen / twenty minutes, gently stoke the now glowing coals, and add more fuel to suit the amount of meat needing tanning.

One of the best braais I ever did was in Pilanesberg last November. It rained pretty much the whole weekend, and our camp site's braai was a concrete pit, and it was wet. So I used dry wood from Big Laz's shop to form a dry base, and did my usual fire (as above) on this wooden 'platform'. Our camping neighbour came across and said if I was battling, I could grab a shovel full of his coals. But that was not necessary at all. Within half an hour we had a blazing fire, and after we were done, said neighbour came across and asked if he could pinch a shovel full of coals from us! :D
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Unread post by G@mespotter » Tue Jun 05, 2007 1:37 pm

Hi Perks,
You definitily know your braai techniques, but I just want to add the following for after the braai... :wink:

If im am correct, a bag of wood with 12 pieces of wood of more or less 10 cm in diameter cost R15, but im not sure anymore :hmz: . I bought them in the camps (last Pretoriuskop), and walked to the camping, but 2 of these bags are rather heavy after a few 100 meters. :?

The secret is not that I am weak at all.., but the wood is very compact, and 2 bags will last for +- 4 hours!! :shock:
I dont know what kind of wood it is (maybe some woodexpert can tell me this?) , but it is long lasting and a nice method to warm yourself (in winter ofcourse :mrgreen: )

I always make the fire of the braai's on standards, and sit around it, listening to the night sounds of whooping hyenas and hippo's :D
But you should start the fire with a load of extra coals, as they tend to take pretty long to burn properly..

Enjoy your nightfires this winter...

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Unread post by Mgoddard » Tue Jun 05, 2007 2:13 pm

I actually had to chuckle a bit by reading the comments from you guys...buying a braai box :redface: making a fire using charcoal :redface: etc. When in S.A I only use wood, nothing else. There are many ways to start a fire, (its like a small child), it depends on the love and care you give it in the beginning on how its going to turn out at the end. I prefer to use rolled up newspaper, dont like the smell of parafin or other firelighters, really only use them when I have no choice. What you do is to take a layer of 3 sheets of paper and start folding from the one corner, you will end up with a long piece of stiff paper, then you roll it up and tuck the one side into the other, so now you have a round piece. Put 2 or 3 of these on top of each other, pack your wood around it, light it and Wala! you have a fire! :D
Once again as mentioned in some thread, I make the fire, I look after it, I braai, no one touch it. Some of our friends are quite amazed that my husband is relaxing while I enjoy myself with the fire.

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Unread post by lisa » Fri Feb 01, 2008 9:00 pm

I think I need a newbie lesson in how to braai, what to braai, braai 101, braai for dummies, or whatever you want to call it. At home with a stove and an oven I know how to cook. But I have not cooked over an open fire since I went camping as a little girl, and I think the extent of my cooking then was hot dogs or sausages on a stick. To be honest, I am a little worried! So I could use any very basic instructions or recipes that people have. Our grill at home is gas -- I don't think we have cooked with wood or charcoal in ages -- I am kind of looking forward to it, but on the other hand I don't even know how long it takes to get a fire going or how long it needs to burn before you start to cook, etc. So if anybody has any easy, basic advice about this, we would really appreciate it. I am talking really basic. I don't even know if we should buy wood or charcoal. I know we will stop in Upington for groceries. We will be staying at Nossob and Urikaruus. Breakfast and lunch we can handle, but I am at a bit of a loss when it comes to my very first-ever braai dinner and would love any help you can give me!

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Unread post by arks » Fri Feb 01, 2008 11:31 pm

lisa, a braai is just a simple barbeque — no big deal! Most South Africans prefer to braai with wood, I often use a combination of both. Also in SA you can get firelighters, which are blocks of parafin. These making getting your fire going really easy. You can get wood, charcoal and firelighters at the Pick 'n Pay in Upington and Twee Rivieren also usually has a good supply of wood in the shop. I'd also recommend a butane "lighter" (like Bic sells in the USA) for lighting the braai, easier than matches :wink: which I think I bought at Pick 'n Pay, but they also sell them in the TR shop.

As to what to braai — buy your meat at the Skaapland butchers in Upington, these were the best lamb chops I've ever had. You can braai pretty much anything: lamb chops, steak, borewors, chicken, pork, even fish. Ask the butcher to vacuum pack your meat in single meal packages, then you can freeze some of these for later in your trip.

You can also grill corn (called mealies in SA) and other veggies on the braai, although I've not done this. I usually have green beans or brocoli or salad and rice with my meat. What you choose for your braai is a personal thing, everyone probably does it differently.

Some I've noticed make a huge pile of wood to start and let it burn down to coals before they even think of starting the meat. I'm a bit budget minded, so I keep my fire on the smaller side and put my meat on once the fire has settled and begun to turn to hot coals — I like the fire to flare up and seal the outside of my meat, so it is crusty on the outside and bloody on the inside :wink: Again, it's all a matter of personal taste and style, you'll find what works best for you.

Best thing of alll is to keep the fire going after you've finished cooking. I even make a fire nights when I don't braai as I just enjoy having a fire whilst I'm enjoying my wine and the night sounds 8)
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Unread post by C. O'Dee » Sat Feb 02, 2008 11:39 am

How many people are you braaing for Lisa? Also, do you like white or red meat, and what about veggies? Everything takes a different amount of time to cook, so cooking for just 1 person like Arks, its very easy, and as she says, "no big deal"! The tricks come in when you cook for more than one and different types of meat at the same time, as well as adding veggies. :? We braai for sometimes up to 10 people at a time, some eating chops, some chicken, also pork sausage and boerewors and veggies all on the same braai. Give me some kind of idea of what you like and I'll post some approximate "times" for you to keep in mind if you're cooking for more than one person. Braaing here in SA is what we do!! Some times in summer we braai more than we cook!! If there is one thing South Africans are on top of - its our braai's. :dance: :dance:

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Unread post by bert » Sat Feb 02, 2008 1:45 pm

Dont forget the beer or cape red
Some easy instructions how to get the braai started
I also use the firelighters like Arks
Always use charcoal
first make a layer of charcoal
Then place 3 small blocks of firestarters (you break pieces)
on top of the coal. Light and then pack a small pile on top.
But remember to allow air between the coals.
And after the coals or red hot and trow in some more coals.

Basicly the same with wood
Firestarters at the bottom of the grid.
And then the wood on top.

And it this doenst help go to a neighbour
Bet they can help out :D

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Unread post by lisa » Sat Feb 02, 2008 1:57 pm

It will just be for the two of us, me and my husband. I have gotten pretty good at cooking on our gas grill here at home -- I like to grill all sorts of meat and veggies -- lamb chops, pork chops, steak, chicken kabobs, etc. But I have never done it over a real fire so that is the part that has me a bit worried, because you can't control the temperature and I don't want to end up with two charred lumps that used to be steaks! So I am guessing we should start the fire early and then wait for it to die down a bit before we start to cook (but I have no idea how long this takes)? Also, is there any way to cook potatoes on a braai? Thanks in advance!

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