Bunny Chow

Bunny Chow

Durban’s home-grown dish has its roots in the subcontinent,
but this fragrant, flavoursome curry comes served not with
rice, roti or naan, but ladled into a hollowed-out loaf of bread.

Myth surrounds the origin of Bunny Chow. Its geographical roots are clear, influenced by Durban’s sizeable Indian population. But why did someone decide to scoop curry into a loaf of bread? Was it devised by Indian golf caddies in need of lunch in pre- Tupperware times? Or was it a restaurateur catering to people barred from certain eateries during apartheid? Whatever the answer, it is undeniably born of ingenuity.

You’ll need
Sunflower oil
2 onions, peeled and coarsely
4 cardamom pods
1 stick cinnamon
4 curry leaves
2 tsp turmeric
4 tsp garam masala
2 tsp leaf masala
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and
800g (1lb 10oz) stewing lamb,
preferably boneless, cut into
bite-sized pieces
2 large tomatoes, coarsely
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
½ cup (125mL) water
1 tsp salt
Loaf of fresh white bread,
1 tin garden peas
Fresh coriander (cilantro)
leaves to garnish

Cooking Method
1 Add a generous glug of oil to a deep pan and fry the onions for 4–5 minutes on a medium heat.
2 Add the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and curry leaves and fry until the onion begins to brown.
3 Add the turmeric, garam masala, leaf masala, ground coriander and cumin, then the ginger and garlic. Stir to coat the onion.
4 Cook for another couple of minutes, stirring constantly, then add the meat. If the oil has been soaked up by the spices, you can add a little extra oil.
5 Once the meat is starting to brown, add the tomatoes, potatoes and about ¼ cup (60mL) of hot water to start with, making sure that the potatoes are just covered with liquid. Stir in the salt.
6 Simmer for 30–40 minutes, until the meat and potatoes are tender. Add more liquid as required.
7 Prepare the bread, taking care to leave the crust intact and keeping a narrow lining of fluffy bread.
8 Add the tinned peas to the curry and heat for 5 minutes.
9 To serve, ladle the curry into each bread container and serve with a sprinkle of fresh coriander and the ‘virgin’ on the side.

Tasting notes
At first glance Bunny Chow seems an odd dish and you can’t help wondering how to attack it without cutlery. But this fusion of Indian flavours with European bread is a culinary symbol of South Africa’s melange of cultures. Eating it like a local presents a way to quickly assimilate into Durban life. As you munch through your Bunny, subdue the heat with the traditional can of cream soda, or spice it up with atchar (spicy pickles) or sambal (a salsa-like condiment). As you finish, use your ‘virgin’, the fluffy chunk of bread originally scooped out of the loaf, to mop up spilt juices – as a first-time Bunny eater, expect a little spillage.

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