When I run into my brother or a cousin on a Saturday afternoon and ask “Where are you off to?” they will almost invariably respond “to a potjie” or “to a braai”. A few minutes later my Dad walks into the kitchen holding white packages – most certainly containing packaged braai meals.
The aroma of spices and grilled meat embraces our home as he opens the lids and later that evening my brother brings potjiekos for dinner. "Yes! There is no need to make dinner tonight", I say to them.
Braai is an Afrikaans word, it means ‘to grill’. Braaiing is extensively practised in Namibia and South Africa. Similar to a barbecue, during a braai meat is grilled on open wood coals or charcoal.
A braai meal includes a few or most of the following: boerewors (a raw meat sausage), lamb chops, T-bone steak, chicken, fish, sosaties (meat on skewers), potato salad, roosterbroodtjies (bread baked on grill), pap (traditional Southern African maize staple), tomato-onion relish, carrot and bean salad.
Potjie / potjiekos, also an Afrikaans word, refers to a dish prepared outdoors in a cast-iron three-legged pot. Food prepared in this pot comes in a variety of slow-cooked stews: vegetable, chicken, oxtail, lamb or seafood – people can get creative here, so there is more than one recipe.
Potjiekos has a unique flavour, an infusion of meat, unique spices and a variety of vegetables, making it worth a taste.
In Namibia, braai and potjie are more than mere food preparations. For others it is an opportunity to provide for themselves and their families, like my cousin Mathew.
It’s a hot Saturday afternoon, I see Mathew quite jittery and I ask: “Is everything alright?”
He says: “Yes, I am preparing my braai items and I cannot find my paper plates”.
I say: “I’ll help you quickly”. And we find them in a few seconds. Mathew thanks me and off he walks to go sell his braai meat.
I see Mathew on Sunday morning and I ask: “How did it go with your braai?” and He says: “It was nxa (good), my friends and others from the bar next door bought from me”.
I respond: “That’s great”, and he walks away to go collect his braai items from the previous day.
It’s also a social gathering that we love and enjoy.
As families, friends and complete strangers sit or stand around a braai or potjie communicating amongst each other about various life matters, while supporting another’s dream.
If you don’t have the time or space to host a braai, take-aways (like the ones my Dad likes to get) are a good alternative, socialising included. While you wait for your braai meal or potjiekos, you can start a conversation with someone new or you might bump into... Chanél, your primary school friend.
For your next braai, why don't you try the new Nam Flava Braai Spice by EES ?
If you ever find yourself hungry in Windhoek over payday period, support a local entrepreneur and grab a braai meal or potjiekos near you, while you take the opportunity to meet new people and / or catch up with old friends and long-lost relatives.
Where do you go for your braai or potjie? Let us know by sharing your story in the comment section below.