I learned about braaibroodjie from a South African acquaintance who waxed rhapsodic about her father's braai. Although the meal centers around grilled meats, it is the toasty cheese sandwiches grilled over the low coals at the end of the day that she most looks forward to. I was intrigued by the ingredients — cheese and chutney? — and her enthusiasm for the sandwich, which I found echoed by other South Africans when I started researching braaibroodjie. "The best part of the braai!" seemed to be the universal reaction. I hope my take on the sandwich isn't too blasphemous, as it accommodates my dislike of raw onion. Hoping that some magical transformation took place during the grilling process, I did give the original version a chance, layering thinly-sliced raw red onion with tomato and cheese, but the resulting sandwich was too aggressively oniony for my taste. Grilled scallions, on the other hand, have been one of my obsessions this summer, the heat of the grill mellowing and slightly caramelizing the onions into a soft smokiness that I can't get enough of. So I gave the sandwich another go, this time grilling a couple scallions over high heat before letting the grill cool to low while I prepped the rest of the ingredients.
I don't usually keep chutney on hand, but luckily my friend, preserves-master Jessica of Sqirl, had just stocked her shop with a Santa Rosa plum chutney that worked beautifully with the sharp white cheddar cheese and grilled onions. And I didn't have any open coals in my apartment kitchen; instead I used a grill pan and metal pot lid to crisp up the buttered exterior of the bread while melting the cheese inside. While I imagine a braaibroodjie tastes its best eaten outdoors at the end of a long day of barbecuing, it's still pretty stellar indoors at lunchtime, and given its devotion in South Africa, would probably make a welcome surprise snack at the end of a cocktail party or other gathering.