Bunny Chow is a traditional street food made famous by the Indian population of Durban, a large coastal city in Natal on South Africa’s tropical east coast and consists of curry spooned into a scooped-out loaf of white bread.
There are many theories of the origin of Bunny Chow including that it was first used by Indian laborers (brought to work on the South African sugar cane fields) as a method of getting their curry dishes out to the field in hollowed out bread thus not needing and containers or utensils. Another theory is that it originated at a restaurant on Grey Street in Durban in the early 1900’s when golf caddies from the Royal Durban Country Club went to get curry for lunch. Curries were brought back in hollowed out loaves of bread. The bread is used as a “utensil” to scoop out curry and thus a fork is not necessary. The description “Bunny” is thought to be derived from the shopkeepers on Grey Street who were called “banias”, a name for the Indian merchants.
The curry was first a vegetable curry but is now often made with chicken, lamb or beef and is served in either a whole loaf, half loaf or quarter loaf of bread. It’s a fun and somewhat messy street food but beware that locals in Durban like it hot so keep in mind when ordering!
South African Spicy Bunny Chow
Bunny Chow Recipe
Any basic curry can be used for this dish. Below is a typical Durban curry dish that works well.
- 2 lbs of chicken or lamb, cubed
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 2 large tomatoes or can of tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp oil (prefer olive oil)
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1.5 tsp crushed ginger
- 2 tblsp masala (if you can get it) or regular curry powder
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 3-4 potatoes, cubed
- Salt to taste
- Add peri-peri or chili peppers to taste
- 1 or 2 loaves of fresh white bread (crusty outside to contain the curry and soft inside)
- Fresh coriander leaves to garnish
- Heat the oil and fry cinnamon and onion until soft and light golden brown.
- Add the masala (or curry powder), turmeric, ginger, garlic and tomato. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mix resembles a puree.
- Add the cubed meat and cook for about 10 minutes. Add potatoes and about 1/4 cup of water. Simmer over low heat until the meat and potatoes are tender (approx. 30 minutes).
- Add garam masala. Add salt if necessary. Simmer for a further 10 minutes on a low heat.
- Cut bread loaves in half and hollow out to form a bowl.
- Spoon the cooked hot curry into the half loaf and serve, garnished with coriander leaves. The soft inside of the bread is typically put on top and used to soak up some of the sauce from the curry as a “starter”.