The Bunny Chow is a hollowed-out loaf of white bread is filled with a selection of different curries and beans. This has been a local delicacy since the 1940s – but no one is quite sure who created it.
Here’s a closer look at the story of this unique South African dish.
Often served with grated carrot, chilli and onion salad, the bunny chow is a meal that certainly has its own distinctive look and demands to be eaten in a particular way – with the hands! The eater starts from the ‘virgin’ scooped-out bread at the top and to end at the gravy-soaked bottom.
The bunny chow was created during apartheid for the Indian labourers, who were brought to work in Natal’s sugarcane fields. The word ‘bunny’ comes from ‘bania’, the caste of the Indian businessmen who sold the curry, while ‘chow’ is, of course, slang for ‘food’.
One story goes that way because the law during apartheid forbade black people from entering restaurants and cafes, so they took to ordering take-out meals from the sides or backdoors of restaurants.
Another school if thought claims that that it was invented for the Indian caddies at the Royal Durban Golf Course who were unable to get off from work long enough to eat their lunch in Grey Street, the Indian area in Durban’s central business district. So, eventually, they began to get their friends to buy the curry for them in the city. With no access to take-out containers, the friends brought the curry in hollowed-out loaves of bread. Thus the bunny chow was born. Funny yet innovative right?
Whatever the real story is, there’s no denying that the bunny chow has become a delicious Durban icon.
How to make a bunny chow:
1kg lamb pieces.
Little oil to cover base of pot.
2 large cinnamon sticks.
1 tsp fennel seeds.
1 bay leaf.
6 green cardamoms.
A sprig of curry leaves.
1 tsp crushed green chillies.
1 large onion, finely diced.
½ tsp turmeric.
2 tbles crushed ginger and garlic mix.
1 tbles vinegar (your choice on type) I normally use white vinegar.
2 tsp sugar.
3 level tsp medium chilli powder.
2 tsp dhania-jeeru powder.
1 tsp garam masala.
2 tomatoes, blended.
5 small to medium potatoes, quartered.
chopped fresh coriander salt to taste.
Step by step instructions:
Heat oil in pot.
Add cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, bay leaf and fennel and stir.
Add curry leaves, chillies, onion, turmeric, ginger and garlic and then braise for 3-4 minutes.
Add garam masala and spices to pot. Then vinegar and sugar and mix well.
Add the meat and salt.
Cover saucepan and cook on moderate heat for a few minutes.
Stir from time to time and add potatoes.
Add water when ever needed so it doesn’t burn out. When potatoes are ¾ cooked add the chopped tomatoes.
When potatoes are cooked, stir and add coriander and serve with salad.
How to assemble the bunny:
Hollow out the inner/white of the bread and keep intact. Scoop the mixture and then seal the bunny with the bread that was dug out. Place bunny in a large platter and serve with tomato/onion salad and other sides…
Who says you must be in South Africa to enjoy the tasty bunny chow. Please share your experience with us in the comment section.