Papaya Guacamole Chicken Braai Burger

by Dr. Hennie Fisher

Even though chicken remains one of the most consumed meats in South Africa, it definitely takes a back seat to the obligatory boerewors and lamb chops when we braai. This reticence probably stems from the fact that it is actually not so easy to braai chicken from raw on an open fire although there are many tricks, such as par-cooking it, or, as in this recipe, deboning it. To successfully braai chicken, one needs a good sense of the heat of the braai, with partially burnt down coals, and constant attention to ensure that the meat does not burn, while maintaining food safety levels to ensure the chicken is cooked right through. In this recipe, the skin was left on the deboned chicken thighs for taste and juiciness although removing them would have sped up the cooking process; skinless chicken cooks much easier on the braai, even though it is never as tasty without the delicious crispy skin. The chicken is given a nice South African peri-peri-inspired coating before being placed on the braai, and is served with lettuce leaves, some ribboned carrot, and papaya guacamole. One can of course add much more, such as a slice or two of soft white cheese, possibly even goat’s cheese, tomato slices or even a slice or two of crispy bacon. But this burger is relatively simple, with exciting fresh fruity flavours and delicious crispy chicken with a hint of chilli.

Guacamole is that delicious mix of avocado and other ingredients that originated in Central and Latin America. It is traditionally made by mashing ripe avocados in a molcajete y tejolote (mortar and pestle), often with additions such as lime, fresh coriander leaves, onions and chillies such as jalapeños. Other non-traditional ingredients may also be added, such as tomatoes, sour cream and even basil or peas. This recipe, which incorporates papaya, is subtly fruity and pairs extremely well with a hot crispy piece of chicken straight off the braai. Of course, you do not have to use the guacamole in or on the burger, it is equally good with nachos. One could also skip the burger, and simply enjoy braaied chicken with guacamole and salads.
Ingredients for 6 burgers or 3 double burgers:

For the guacamole:

  • ½ garlic clove, made into a paste
  • 2,5 ml (½ teaspoon) salt
  • 2,5 ml (½ teaspoon) freshly ground black pepper
  • 7,5 ml (½ tablespoon) smoked paprika
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) olive oil
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 small, or half a medium red onion, finely diced
  • 8 cocktail tomatoes or ½ large normal tomato, finely diced
  • Few sprigs parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 ripe avocado pear, peeled and mashed
  • 1/3 of a medium papaya, small cubes

Marinade for the chicken:

  • ½ garlic clove, made into a paste
  • ½ lemon juice
  • 2,5 ml (½ teaspoon) salt
  • 2,5 ml (½ teaspoon) freshly ground black pepper
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) olive oil
  • 2, 5 ml (½ teaspoon) chilli powder (or more if you like a hot touch)
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) soya sauce
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) honey
  • 6 burger buns
  • 6 large (or 12 small) deboned chicken thighs (skin on or skin off)
  • Selection of lettuce
  • 2 carrots, cut into ribbons with a potato peeler, dressed in a little olive oil, salt and pepper
  • Chips or oven baked orange sweet potato wedges to serve


Mix together all the ingredients for the chicken marinade. Marinade the chicken in the mixture for at least an hour, and then braai them gently until they have a good crisp skin and are properly cooked on the inside. Gently mix together the ingredients for the guacamole and then assemble the burgers in any order, dividing the ingredients between the six buns.

Serve with chips or oven wedges.