• As South Africans, braaing isn’t so much a pastime as it is a religion. Turning your braai area from mundane to memorable starts with changing how you view it. If, in your mind, it’s good enough to drag your braai, a chair, and a pair of tongs to the middle of the garden, then you can expect to stand stoksielalleen at the braai while the rest of the guests congregate around the living room or kitchen carrying on the party without the chef. Take a moment to imagine the mouth-watering aroma of lamb chops and boerewors on the grill, accompanied by a fresh salad and the warm buttery taste of beer bread.

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    Top secrets to an epic braai area:

    Secret 1: See it as more than just a place to braai

    The first secret to creating an epic braai area is to rather see it as an extension of your kitchen – the alfresco part of your kitchen, if you will – or as part of your entertainment zone.

    ‘The trouble with braai areas is that they are traditionally structured in a way that isn’t really geared towards allowing guests to congregate comfortably and sociably around the braai,’ says Jazeign Kesari, National Procurement Manager at Teljoy. ‘The braai is often dusted off and dragged onto a patio or into the garden, with no thought as to seating and side tables, or creating a space that is inviting for guests. So they rather hang out in the kitchen or living room, leaving the Braai Master – who is often the host – standing alone.’

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    A simple way to change this is to create a space that is comfortable and inviting. ‘An outdoor lounge suite with a small coffee table and/or two side tables gives your guests somewhere comfortable to sit, with the tables giving them a place to put their drinks – and for you to put out tasty snacks,’ suggests Kesari. ‘Have comfortable and durable cushions, but store them indoors and only bring them out when you have guests – this will keep them from weathering in the sun, and will protect them from inclement weather when you’re not using them.’

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    Secret 2: Bring the tech, and they will come

    Braais are often centered around a big rugby or soccer match, which evolves into a social party afterwards – but these games usually take place late in the afternoon or early evening. ‘To enable you to braai and enjoy the game with your mates at the same time, set up a big-screen TV and good sound system in your braai zone, with a bar fridge, glasses, your mixers, and an ice machine so your guests will have everything they need to enjoy those winning tries and goals, while enjoying the ambiance of the braai,” says Kesari.

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    Secret 3: The right braai

    It’s not really a secret that having the right braai for the style of food you’re cooking, the space in which you’re cooking (is it outside in a garden, or on an apartment balcony), and the number of people you’re catering for, is important.

    Trying to cook for 12 people on a tiny portable camping braai, for example, will be very challenging when it comes to the volume of food you need to prepare so that everyone can eat at the same time, and keeping the coals hot enough so that you can actually get through all the cooking. So make sure that the braai you have is the right size for the number of people you’ll be cooking for. You also want to be sensitive with a coal or wood burning braai if you live in an apartment or complex where smoke can disturb your neighbours.

    ‘If you don’t entertain often but are having a big braai bash, you can hire a braai in for the occasion,’ suggests Kesari. ‘This is Teljoy’s primary purpose – giving you access to what you need when you need it for as long (or as little) as you need it. We have gas braais that you can enjoy for a few months or a lifetime! Gas braais are very practical at the moment, considering the loadshedding we are experiencing, and are a great alternative to a gas stove or the smokiness associated with a coal or wood braai.

    Originally published on Bona 

    Feature Image: Unsplash/(Emerson Vieira)

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