Book Review: Jan Braai – The Vegetarian Option


Review: Brian Joss

If you don’t know by now,  Jan Braai, aka Jan Scannell, was the man who with a little help from Emeritus Bishop “The Arch” Desmond Tutu, turned Heritage Day (September 24) into National Braai Day.

As Jan Braai he is better known for braaing succulent cuts of meat -–  from T-Bone steaks -–  to boerewors made to his own special recipe. Although several of his books, among them Red Hot Jan Braai, Fireworks and Shisanyama, were devoted to carnivores he did include dishes that were suitable for vegetarians.

His latest, The Vegetarian Option will give meat-eaters lots to chew over.

The chapter I enjoyed most was Dessert which included gems like Chocolate Fondant Potjie Pudding; Nutella and Banana Wraps; Chocolate Risotto and a World Cup Winning Bread and Butter Pudding. However, tucked away in the category Braaibroodjies and Burgers is a recipe for a Chocolate Braaibroodjie.

Other sections in The Vegetarian Option include Breakfast Braai where you can learn to make a Breakfast Braai Omelette which is similar to a frittata; the Breakfast of Champions made with eggs including a high-quality relish with cayenne pepper, garlic, red onion and red pepper, will really jumpstart your day.

You can find recipes for Brandy Pasta; Mushroom Risotto, Bean Bolognese and Sweet Potato Paella under the heading Pasta and Risotto Potjies. In Vegetables, you can choose Coal-Baked Potato and Onion with various sauces ranging from Mushroom, soetpatat or butternut with a filling. Awesome Ideas features Jan Braai’s Pizza; Umnqusho or a Cheese Fondue. There is a host of dishes that will  impress your friends, even the meat-eaters.  Among them are Baked Beans Bunny Chow; Green Curry; a Bean Rogan Josh and Side Dishes for Curry under Curries. You can choose from Braised Butternut Soup; Minestrone or Braaied Tomato Soup; Putu Pap In A Potjie; Original South African Beer Bread; Stokbrood or Pot Roasted Buns under the headings Soup; and;  Mieliepap and Bread respectively.

The recipes are all set out in an uncomplicated way and if you follow the step-by-step instructions your guests will be coming back for seconds. The ingredients are easily obtainable. You don’t have to wait for the next Heritage Day to light a fire to try Jan Braai’s dishes.

There is a comprehensive Index and the images are by Jan Braai. The Vegetarian Option has something for everyone. Many of the dishes can be made in the oven in your kitchen.

But as Jan Braai says, “Everything tastes better when braaied.”

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