Forget the pizza oven, you need to DIY your own Braai

Genista Jurgens Genista Jurgens
Built in Braai's, The Braai Man The Braai Man Mediterranean style garden
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First of all, you are probably wondering what exactly a Braai is. So that's where we will start. Coming from the word braaivleis (Afrikaans for grilled meat), a Braai is a versatile outdoor, wood burning barbecue that can double as an oven. It is so popular in South Africa, that most households have both gas and wood or charcoal burning Braais in their backyards, gardens or on their terraces. 

Braais play a central role in casual social events where families and friends get together and cook communally with them. Meats are a major part of the meal, and is what the Braai is more commonly used for, but definitely not limited to. Different options include grilling, slow roasting, smoking meats and fish, grilling pizza and baking bread. There is a high shelf that makes the cooking possibilities almost endless, and when the cooking is done, it is easy to simply remove the grilling grid and enjoy the Braai as an open fire. 

Considering the construction.

While you can't exactly DIY the actual Braai (they are made from steel with a matt black heat resistant paint), you can completely customise the space it's built into. 

Ideally the Braai is installed into a chimney stack or wall, and it is recommended by the professionals to build it into a stone, brick or block structure. You also have the option to leave the surface raw and natural, or paint it any color of your choosing, to match the decor of the deck, patio or terrace.  

This Braai is 4 feet wide, so a good structure would need at least 20 inches thickness on each side to support the it. The closing doors also need to kept free, and the ember maker (the small slated box to the right of the main grill), that provides the heat to the Braai needs to be easily accessible.  

Selecting a style.

Or, if you prefer the rustic look, you can also choose to leave it exposed, like this one. The painted black boards behind the Braai turn the whole area into a showpiece that will not fail to grab attention. 

But if you do forgo the surrounding structure, just don't forget to have dedicated space for the stacks of wood to have them on hand! 

Country style cooking.

If you choose to go for a stone structure, your Braai will have a rustic, country look, which could be suited to your home. It's best to go with the cladding that matches that of your house, or terrace for the Braai to look integrated and natural. 

One advantage of using stone is that your Braai will be more protected during the winter months—especially good if you live in a colder climate. 

The elegant option.

Clad in concrete, and painted a pale gray, this Braai looks elegant and beautiful on the side wall of the covered terrace. The structure can be in any form you want it to be, but a standard structure is one with a bench running horizontally at waist height for tools and accessories to rest on. This also leaves space underneath for the wood. 

But definitely don't limit your imagination! 

Make it Mediterranean.

Alternatively, if you want a Mediterranean style Braai, then one of the easiest ways is to build the structure up with breeze-blocks, concrete blocks or bricks. Afterwards, you render the surface, smoothing it over, and finally paint it (usually a white or an off-white tone works best). 

Decorate the space with cacti or succulents, add comfortable chairs and colorful carpets, et voila! You will have yourself a beautiful cooking and dining area to enjoy with friends around a fire. 

Much more than a pizza oven.

Who needs a pizza oven when you have a Braai? With it's cast iron baking plate cooking pizza couldn't be easier. 

To grill or to smoke?

Grilling fish also is a breeze, and tastes great too, thanks to the flavor of the wood fire. And be sure not to forget about the smoking option—simply add soaked chips to the hot embers, place the fish on top and close the doors. 

We hope you will agree that the Braai is a great option if you are looking to add an outdoor grill to your home. And if you are now wanting some options for garden furniture, take a look at these.  

Are you convinced? Tell us what you think about the Braai!

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