Food & Wine

Add a hint of African tradition to Braai Day

Add a hint of African tradition to Braai Day

Vivacious Durban besties Tee and Minnie had foodie fans on the edge of their chairs during their stint on the second season of Mnet’s cooking competition, My Kitchen Rules South Africa. Ahead of National Braai Day, we joined them in the kitchen to get their take on how to braai like a seasoned South African.

Both natural born entertainers who share the same food style and tastes, it’s easy to see why these soul sister students gel in the kitchen and have great fun cooking together. Minnie and Tee (born Minenhle Ntuli and Nomthandazo Xaba) confess that they love eating as much as they love cooking, especially if it’s the type of food you’ll find in a traditional African home. They also love a good braai, and usually take the reins as braai masters, and there’s one ingredient they can’t live without – Aromat!

In their attempts to charm celebrity judges David Higgs and J’Something, as well as their fellow competitors in MKRSA, Minnie and Tee showed the world how to modernise traditional cuisine without taking the African experience away. And while the pair admits that presentation is not their strongest suit, they did their best to compensate with a dish that pleased palates and warmed hearts.

In the end, bubbly personalities and authentic food weren’t enough to save the duo’s Instant Restaurant evening, but their main of pork ribs, urban chakalaka and pap went down exceptionally well, and they bowed out in sizzling style after the judges dubbed it a brave and authentic take on the classic South African favourite, pap and vleis.

“My favourite childhood memory of braaing was in high school when we celebrated my friend’s birthday with a braai. Being headstrong and independent young women we did not want any boys present, so I was nominated as the designated braai area, and I killed it!” says Minnie.

Tee on the other hand grew up around a braai because her mom hosted Stokvel gatherings at which she would prepare braaied and other traditional meals. “It was a buffet of soul food. That’s when I fell in love with food. I also hold dear many memorable beach braai experiences at Blue Lagoon with my family.”

When it comes to braaing nowadays, Minnie and Tee have it all under control.

“It’s very important to prepare your spices and marinades the day before, as it really infuses and brings all the flavours out. If you do it the same day, it’s just going to burn on the braai.”

According to the duo, no braai master or maiden should be without a good braai stand and a decent set of braai utensils – tongs, fork and knife. “Don’t braai without having a sip of gin, lol, and always have pre-snacks for your guests while waiting for the meat to get done. Hot sauce for the braai is a no brainer and another must is a secret seasoning or marinade, as this is what makes a braai memorable.”

Regulars to Pinetown’s Bluff Meat Supply would have recognised the familiar faces of local butchers handing over meat orders to Minnie and Tee during their Instant Restaurant episode on MKRSA, because they were given the option to buy their recipe ingredients from their own choice of suppliers.

“We chose Bluff Meat in Pinetown because we grew up going to their store, and we trust their products. It’s a place where you always meet people from the community, so it feels like home. When braaing, there’s a lot to consider when buying your meat. Never just choose just any cut of meat; choose what will work on the braai and with your menu, and what will also look good on your plate presentation wise. The most popular choices are sausages because they are safe and most people enjoy them; steak, because a braai is not a braai without a good piece of steak; and pork, which is a personal favourite for us and we braai it well. It’s important to choose the right cut of pork, and for us, pork steaks are ideal.”

“When you’re cooking protein that is tougher, marinating it overnight is essential as it allows the marinade’s juices to seep into the protein. The longer you marinate it, the tastier and more tender it will be. Always season properly. You don’t want your food to be too salty or too bland. So, if you’re using a seasoning that has a high salt content, ensure you do not add too many other spices high in salt to your marinade or spice blend.”

Minnie and Tee stress the importance of taking care of your braai griddle, and suggest rubbing lemon or raw onion on your griddle while the coals are burning to keep it clean and prevent your food from sticking.

When it comes to sides the duo aren’t short of suggestions. “We grew up eating pasta salad  but would also eat pap and make chakalaka for a delicious gravy. A great salsa, potato salad and cream spinach are also fantastic sides to serve.”

Inyama yezimbambo nePapa elinongiwe

Ingredients

Chakalaka

1 onion, finely chopped

400 g carrots, peeled and grated

2 to 3 chillies, finely chopped

10 ml crushed garlic

10 ml curry powder

2 ml bbq spice

Aromat, to taste

 

For salsa

2-3 tomatoes, medium diced

1/2 onion, finely chopped

60 ml white vinegar

1-2 fresh chillies, finely chopped

salt, to taste

 

Inyama yezimbambo

3kg pork ribs

steak and chops spice, to taste

Aromat to taste

 

nePapa

olive oil, for frying

2 bottles spare rib marinade

875 ml maize meal

450 ml cold water

200 ml boiling water

butter, as needed

salt, to taste

400g bacon, finely chopped

1/3 each tricolour bell pepper, finely chopped

1/2 onion, finely chopped

250g mushrooms, finely chopped

 

Pumpkin leaves

3 cans baked beans

salt and pepper, to taste

3 bunches pumpkin leaves

1 cup peanuts

125 ml peanut oil

½ onion, finely chopped

 

Instructions

 

Inyama yezimbambo

If you are going to cook the ribs on the braai, which we have done, but we weren’t able to do on the show due to time constraints, it is essential to spice and marinate the day before. Lay ribs out on trays and sprinkle with Steak and Chops spice and then with Aromat. Rub meat with olive oil. Pour spare rib marinade over ribs, making sure to cover both sides of the ribs. Massage meat with marinade, then cover and leave to marinate overnight in the fridge. The next day when it’s time to braai, start the fire, get your coals glowing and when the heat is right and the fire is ready, put the ribs on the griddle. Depending on the size of the rib racks, you can braai them over a medium heat for around 30 minutes or until you feel that they are almost done. Remove the heat and coat once more with your spare rib marinade which just infuses the flavour further. Put the ribs back on the fire for another five to six minutes. When done, the ribs should be tender, and the sauce reduced and sticky. Remove them from the braai and set aside on a cutting board to rest for about three minutes before cutting them up and serving.

 

nePapa

In a bowl, combine 2 cups of maize meal with cold water. Bring 200 ml water to the boil in a large pot and add a knob of butter and salt. Stir the maize meal mixture into the boiling water. Add the remaining maize meal until the desired consistency is achieved. Stir constantly to avoid lumps. Once desired consistency is achieved, place lid on pot and let it cook for 10-20 minutes. Fry the bacon, peppers and onions in a pan for 5 minutes in a dash of oil. Add the mushrooms and sauté a few minutes. Season with Aromat. When the pap is cooked, add the fried bacon and peppers to the pap and stir to mix in thoroughly. Adjust the seasoning.

 

Chakalaka

Sauté onions in a saucepan, add all the spices and fry until tender. Add chilli and carrots, stir to combine. Finally add baked beans and cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

 

Pumpkin leaves

Pick leaves from stem and wash thoroughly in salted water. Set aside to dry and cut into chunks. Place peanuts on a dish cloth, cover and bash to crush them finely. Transfer to a jug and add peanut oil. Combine thoroughly. Sauté onions in a pot, add peanut mixture and stir through the pumpkin leaves.

 

Salsa

Combine all salsa ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

 

Quick Q & A

Best food to take on the road? Finger foods as they’re easy to prepare and eat in the car. These are things like sausage rolls, samoosas and kebabs or fried chicken, potato salad and some rolls are also an option. It is also really important to stay refreshed, Tee and I would usually make mimosas for road trips, or a gin infused beverage (given that we’re not the ones driving).

PHOTOS: Supplied by Mnet

 

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