Now that the sun’s shining it’s impossible to resist the opportunity to get the barbecue (or braai as we call in it South Africa) out. Every year I long for that barbecue summer in London that we are often promised but never materialises. Could this be the year?
Braais are a huge part of South African life and part of the joy is the ritual of building and maintaining the fire (ideally made using wood) until it is at the perfect temperature for cooking. All quite a palava in my experience and plenty of margin for error if you’re unpracticed. So we cheat and use our gas barbecue -–much to the horror of South African friends. I love being able to switch it on and off at will and enjoy doing what we call “tapas braais” for friends where we cook lots of different morsels and spread the eating out over several hours. Well, works for me!
Here’s a delicious South African dish to try on your barbecue. Sosaties are a Cape Malay-influenced concotion of marinated, skewered meat. They are named after “sate” which means skewered meat and “saus” which means spicy sauce. I simply love the name and the way it rolls off the tongue.
Traditionally they were always made with lamb but I like using chicken. It’s important to marinate the chicken for 24 hours to really let the flavours infuse. Note the use of apricot jam in the marinade – a very popular ingredient in Cape Malay cuisine.
Makes 6 sosaties
For the marinade
125g apricot jam
3 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp curry powder
25ml white wine vinegar
For the skewers
3 chicken breasts
2 medium onions, peeled, quartered and separated
18 dried apricots
To make the marinade combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until you have a smooth mixture.
Cut the chicken into bite-sized cubes and mix in with the marinade. Marinade for at least two hours, overnight if possible.
Before threading the ingredients on, remember to soak the wooden skewers in cold water for at least an hour. This will prevent them from burning on the barbecue.
When they are ready, make your sosaties. Thread the ingredients on, alternating with chicken, onion and dried apricots. I like to go with four or five pieces of chicken, three apricots and three thin slices of onion. You can also add pieces of peppers (green or red) if you like.
Cook the sosaties on the barbecue (or under the grill) for about 15 minutes, turning a couple of times and basting with the leftover marinade.
What are your favourite barbecue recipes for our (hopefully) barbecue summer? Do you have any special barbecue secrets? Do let me know, I’d love to hear from you.