Traditional braai recipe: Mealie pap and sheba with grilled sausage

Mackensy Lunsford and Kobie Pretorius
People serve food at a South African Braai held in Franklin, Tennessee.

This is a classic South African braai, or grill, dish. 

Mealie pap, also known as mielie meal, is a corn-based porridge similar to polenta. It's made with maize meal, which can be purchased at groceries that supply South African food. You can also use stone-ground grits; white grits are best. The result is a side dish perfect for soaking up meat juices.

The sheba sauce comes from South African Delene Cloete, who passed the method on to her daughter Kobie Pretorius, who lives in Nashville. The sweet-tart, tomato-based sauce is typically served over pap.

This recipe should turn out a couple of quarts of sheba sauce — enough for an astounding 36 servings, Pretorius said. That makes it perfect for a large braai crowd. If you're not bringing it to a braai, feel free to scale it down. But it also keeps well, jarred, in the fridge for weeks. 

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The pap should make enough for at least 10.

Here, the pap and sheba are served in the traditional way with boerewors, or fresh South African sausage. Bratwurst makes a passable substitute. Five pounds should also serve at least 10 people, especially if there's plenty more to eat.


For the pap:

2 1/2 cups corn maize or coarse cornmeal

4 cups water

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons salted butter

For the sheba:

4 pounds tomatoes, quartered

1 pound sweet yellow onions, sliced

3 cups light brown sugar

2 tablespoons powdered mustard

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons mild curry powder

2 tablespoons corn starch

Freshly ground pepper to taste 

2 cups white vinegar 

For the sausage:

5 pounds boerewors or adequate substitute


Make the pap: Bring the water and the tablespoon of salt to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the maize or grits slowly, stirring all the while, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, add the butter and stir. Cover the pot and simmer for about 45 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the grits continue to steam. Check consistency after one hour. Fluff with a fork.

Make the sheba: Softly simmer tomatoes and onions together on very low heat in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven. Do not scorch. The original recipe does not call for adding fat or oil of any sort, but you may if it helps prevent sticking.

In a small, separate bowl, mix together the cornstarch, sugar, mustard, curry, salt and pepper. Stir in the vinegar to form a paste. 

Slowly pour the paste into the tomatoes and onions and stir continuously as the sheba thickens. Keep the sauce on a very low simmer and stir frequently so it does not scorch, at least 10 minutes, or until thickened in consistency.

For the sausage: About 20 minutes before the pap and sheba are done, grill the sausage for about 20 minutes over medium-high heat, turning often.

To serve: Serve a piece of grilled sausage with a scoop of pap, covered with the sheba sauce, on each plate.