Bunny Chow, is a uniquely South African dish. It is comprised of hollowed out loaf bread, filled with a delicious ‚Durban style curry‘, paired with a carrot salad and washed down with a cola. The origins of this dish are vague, according to some sources it was created by the Bania caste of Indian immigrants in Durban, hence the name bunny chow. This clears up any association with baby rabbits. Chow is South African slang for food. Like pizza, it may have evolved as a simple yet effective means to carry food without a container. It can be enjoyed without a plate, anywhere or anytime of day making it a well loved street food. The dish is thought to have been a vegetarian one, filled with beans, but has evolved to include mutton and beef to attract a broader and growing fan base. Amma was fond of making bunny chow with fresh brown bread filled with Sundays best mutton curry or sugar beans curry. We grew up with tales of her youth in Durban and the notion that the best bunny chow came from Durban’s Victory Lounge, (then in the Grey Street area). It would be unfair not mention Durban’s Orientals restaurant at The Workshop, (from my youth),which in my opinion made the best beans curry in the world, second only to Amma‘s kidney beans curry.
Easy Way to Make Bunny Chow
The easiest way to make a bunny chow is to buy a loaf of fresh sandwich bread (unsliced). Cut out a hollow and overfill it with a fiery Durban Curry. Cut at least 2 cm from the crust to prevent the curry from seeping through. To make bunny chow you need:
Some food bloggers have adapted the recipe, using artisan bread, even created round bread pots. If you are an expat, like me, craving authentic Durban bunny chow, the easiest would be to make your own loaf bread and curry from scratch to compose your homemade bunny chow.
How to Make Bunny Chow Bread
To make an authentic bunny chow at home, you need rectangular sandwich bread. I used the recipe for loaf bread from The Brown Eyed Baker and adapted it to suit my mini loaf pans.
This is one of the best loaf recipes I have tried. The result was crusty bread with a soft inside perfect for making a bunny chow.
Once baked slice the bread to make the desired size. I sliced the loaves in half to make two half bunny chows.
Bunny Chow is available in different sizes using the rectangular loaf bread. A whole one for a voracious appetite, family or bunny chow fan. Half a bunny for anyone who loves a good curry and a quarter for newbies. Bunny Chow from take aways were usually cut with the crust at the bottom. If you make the homemade version I recommend the same. The middle portion or crust less part after making two quarter bunnies from either end is not optimal. Curry simply seeps through. This middle portion can be used for making french toast, sandwiches or bread and butter pudding.
How to Make Bunny Chow Curry
Bunny Chow is all about the gravy, as much as it is about the meat. Gravy in Indian curry in South Africa is made by a combination of spices, onions and tomatoes.
To make the most luscious curry, I recommend slicing onions fine and grating tomatoes. Authentic Duran bunny often contains potatoes in the curry, but if you are counting carbs then I recommend a mutton curry without potatoes. Try one the curries in this Blog.
Durban Chicken Curry
Mutton Curry With Potatoes
Mutton Curry without Potatoes
How to Eat Bunny Chow
The main rule of bunny chow etiquette is to use your hands! Eat the piece cut out of the loaf first, dipping into the curry. Some refer to this as‚the virgin‘ Once this has been eaten, eat around the crust, dipping into the curry, and combining with carrot salad.
Bunny Chow In Durban
I came across this video about Bunny Chow on BBC Travel a few months ago and couldn’t resist the temptation of making a homemade version.
More Durban Street Food and Sweet Treats
These coconut covered pink treats are a cornerstone to most Durban childhoods in the 1980’s.