Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE


@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

“Chicken is a blank canvas” and other anibrand pointers we learned at the launch of Jan Braai’s Shisanyama

All images courtesy of Bookstorm Publishers

Forty-odd partygoers recently congregated at Joburg’s hip 44 Stanley Beer Yard to celebrate the launch of Jan Braai’s latest offering for local-is-lekker culinary aficionados.

And, yes, by that I mean a book on the art of braai’ing.

Many a laugh was shared at the soiree


Shisanyama is “a book that speaks to the spirit of what South Africans like to do,” Bookstorm publisher, Louise Grantham (justly) stated during her introduction.

She did add that it was the most taxing Jan Braai-title to date, as it was the first crowd-sourced book to spring from Jan’s dexterous braai-fingers. Yes, all YOUR favourite recipes appear in the book! (And our condolences to Russell Clarke, a fellow publisher who’s meds dosage, according to Louise, had doubled during the process of crafting Shisanyama…)

Blood, sweat, and braai: Louise Grantham introduces Shisanyama

Next up – the bo-baas braaier himself.

Jan Braai: bringing the nation together, one braai at a time

Jan emphasised that Shisanyama is “thoroughly South African”, drawing on National Braai Day (24 September) as an example of how braai’ing can unite South Africans.

Officially celebrated as Heritage Day, the 24th of September has become synonymous with braai’ing since 2005 – the year in which this public holiday was ‘re-branded’ as National Braai Day.

“Braai Day is such a positive day for South African society,” the brains behind Braai Day told us.

As someone in the fortunate position of having a background in asset management and an unparalleled passion for braai’ing, Jan decided to combine these talents – building assets became nation building, via the incentive of National Braai Day.

Owing to Joburg’s predictably unpredictable weather, the attendees were treated to burgers, not braaivleis.

The significance of Braai Day lies therein that it’s both apolitical and receives no government funding, he continued. And an estimate of 50 million (!) people spend the 24th of September gathered around a fire with tjop (and probably some dop). Yoh.

Yet there’s so much more to braai’ing than tjops and wors. In the words of the braai master himself – “it’s aspirational!”

Just remember the two S’s and you ought to be fine: keep it Simple (the less ingredients the better) and go easy on the Spices (Jan is NOT a fan…)

Deciding which recipes to include in the book proved to be a challenge at times, but travelling across the country and having the opportunity to meet fellow braai-loving South Africans made the decision-making process worth its while, Jan said.

(And if your recipe was slightly altered – Jan acknowledged that he “drastically changed” Michelin-star chef Jan-Hendrik van der Westhuizen’s entry, much to the audience’s delight. No hard feelings, hey?)

He echoed the importance of less ingredients: “My favourite recipes were those with few ingredients,” and mentioned that he received simple, yet delicious recipes for a variety of braai’able foodstuffs – from boerewors, to chakalaka, to gnocchi, to chicken.

“Chicken,” Jan declared, “is a blank canvas.

“I received three different peri-peri chicken recipes; a helluva lot of people like peri-peri chicken!

“These recipes are truly reflective of how we as South Africans braai.”


Lakka, boet!


Book details


Please register or log in to comment