No bunnies were harmed in the making of this curry
PREP TIME: 15 mins
COOKING TIME: 30 mins
IDEAL FOR: family meal, easy meal, crowd-pleaser
Durban street food
For many years, Bunny Chow has been on my list of things to try.
I’ve known a few South African’s over the years and it always crops up as they reminisce about home food favourites.
But a few years have gone by since I’ve thought about it so I decided to drop my ‘#ItalianMama’ South African friend, Steph, a quick WhatsApp.
I just wanted to get her thoughts on this dish and if it was worth giving it a go?
And her response…
“Hey! The only time I ever ate bunny chow was at 2 am, desperate to soak up some alcohol. It was ALWAYS delicious. 😂”
That’s good enough for me!
In a nutshell, it’s a thick curry served in a hollowed-out loaf of bread.
A sounds like, what a …
- kebab is to the English,
- the pie is to a Kiwi,
- and a hot-dog is to an American.
- late-night food.
- comfort food.
- on-the-go food.
And it’s delicious food.
No bunnies were harmed while making bunny chow.
No, this recipe doesn’t require bunnies.
It’s a rich (chicken or lamb) curry with chunks of carrots and potatoes which happily swim in a blend of aromatic spices.
All served up in a (decent-sized) loaf of bread (traditionally, a rectangular white loaf) which soaks up all the flavourful sauce.
Bunny chow’s back story
‘Bunny’ comes from the word ‘Bania’ (or Baniya) meaning trade.
It’s an Indian caste made up usually of moneylenders or merchants found mainly in northern and western India.
And Durban (South Africa) has a large Indian community which is where Bunny Chow originated.
There are two stories of its creation which I’ve come across.
The first one says it was due to the apartheid laws (1948 to 1994) which black South African’s from entering restaurants or cafes.
So, they began takeaways from the back doors of their restaurants.
Where they used hallowed loaves of bread as ‘takeaway containers’ for their curries.
And the other story, come from on the golf course.
When hungry Indian golf caddies couldn’t leave to pick up their lunch.
So, they asked friends to bring their lunch to them.
Which is where the loaf of bread came in as the the ‘container’ for them to carry it back to the golf course.
So, who knows where exactly it started.
But it’s become a firm favourite and holds some fond memories for a lot of South Africans and visitors.
A bit of food fun
Who doesn’t love curry with its aromatic spices and warming sauce.
Which is why I thought it was a bit of fun to try Bunny Chow in its creative takeaway container.
So, if you have a group of friends over and don’t want dishes, this is the perfect dish!
Or if you have teenagers rushing out the door to see friends… give them their own edible takeaway container!
Either way, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this fun and delicious curry.
And don’t let the list of ingredients put you off.
It’s honestly, easy and fast!
Inspired by Food52
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 large white onions
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 3 tbsp garam masala
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper (or more, it's up to you)
- 2 tsp tumeric
- 2 ground cardamom pods
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 2 cups carrots, diced (or green beans)
- 2 cups potatoes, cubed
- 2 large, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 – 2 cups chicken stock or water
- 2 unsliced loaves of crusty (traditionally) white bread, cut across in half in the middle and most of inside hollowed out like a bread bowl
- In a frying pan, heat the oil and sauté the cinnamon and bay leaves until fragrant (approx 1-2 mins).
- Add the onions and fry until they are almost translucent then add garlic, ginger, and all of the spices. Cook another 1-2 minutes.
- Add the carrots or beans, potatoes, chicken, and stock (or water). Stir and bring to a low simmer. Leave to cook and cover for about 30 minutes until chicken is tender, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the cinnamon stick and spoon the curry inside the bread.