If you are ever looking up traditional South African meals, you are bound to arrive at a reference to Bunny Chow. Bunny Chow is a traditional Durban dish and its origins are as hotly debated as some its spicy ingredients. For more about this versatile delicious dish and Bunny Chow recipes that will get your mouth watering, read on.
The history of Bunny Chow
Bunny Chow is essentially a hollowed out loaf of white bread, filled with a delicious filling. It’s a dish that is rumoured to have become popular amongst indentured Indian labourers who were brought out to work in Natal’s sugarcane fields. Rumour has it that the word ‘bunny’ comes from the Indian word ‘bania’ which is the cast of the Indian businessmen who sold this food to the labourers, and the word ‘chow’ is South African slang for food.
Another theory is that Bunny Chow was created for the Indian caddies working at the Royal Durban Golf Course. As Durban’s central business district was too far away for the caddies to pop out and grab a quick meal at lunchtime, their friends brought them back their curry in hollowed-out bread and the bunny chow was created.
Some people however believe that the word Bunny Chow is a combination of the word bun and achar, a spicy Indian/Malay relish. Over the years, the theory is that “bun achar” became Bunny Chow”
The way to eat Bunny Chow
Bunny Chow is the ideal take-way food and it’s eaten with the hands. The idea is to start with the scooped out bread at the top and finish off with the rich gravy at the bottom. The fillings for Bunny Chow vary from curried meat to oil-soaked chips, called ‘slap’ (floppy) chips. This ‘Chip Chow’ is a favourite high-energy meal eaten by Durban’s surfers between wave sets.
If you are inspired enough to create your own Bunny Chow recipe, you might like to enter the Bunny Chow Barometer, a competition held in September in Durban on the south bank of the Umgeni River. Here Bunny Chow chefs compete for the title of the best Bunny Chow maker.
To create your own bunny chow wherever you are living, here is some inspiration.
Sugar bean Bunny Chow Recipe
It is thought that the original Bunny Chows were more vegetarian-based than meat-based, as the most popular dish at the time amongst the Indian labourers was roti and beans. This vegetarian Bunny Chow has its roots in the original recipe.
- 1 can of sugar beans
- 1 chopped onion
- Crushed garlic to taste
- Finely chopped chillies
- 1 potato cubed and boiled
- 1 tomato, diced
- Curry powder to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Half a loaf of bread
- Fry the onions.
- When the onions are soft add the garlic and the curry powder.
- Once the garlic is soft add the potato and tomato.
- Add your beans.
- Allow your ingredients to come to a boil.
- Cut your bread loaf in half to make 2 quarters, and hollow out most of the insides.
- Pour your bean mix into the bread.
Mutton Curry Bunny Chow Recipe
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- 500g stewing mutton, chopped
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 3 tbsp masala spice
- 1 tbsp peeled and grated ginger
- 410g tin chopped tomatoes
- 2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 loaf white bread, quartered, insides removed
- Coriander, to garnish
- Heat the oil in a pot and brown the meat. Remove from the pot and set aside.
- Add the onion, cinnamon, bay leaf, fennel seeds and turmeric to the pot and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Add the garlic, masala and ginger and cook for a further 1 minute.
- Add the meat, tomatoes, potatoes and 1 cup water. Simmer, covered, for 45 minutes, until meat is tender and potatoes are soft. Season.
- Fill the hollowed-out ¼ bread loaves with the curry and garnish with coriander.
Steak and tomato Bunny Chow Recipe
This recipe has been updated to share it amongst a few people. But if you prefer to, replace the bread rolls with a large loaf of white bread.
- 4 large bread rolls
- Salt and ground black pepper to season
- 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 30ml olive oil
- 1 lemon juice
- 500g rump or porterhouse steak, sliced
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 3 medium ripe tomatoes, sliced
- chilli to serve
- Chop the rosemary roughly and mix with the lemon juice and olive oil.
- Preheat oven to 100 degrees C.
- Season the steaks and cover with the olive oil mixture. Leave for about 10 minutes or longer if you can.
- Place the rolls in the oven to warm. About 10 minutes.
- Heat a large frying pan or griddle, add the steak, onions and tomato. Cook for 1 minute.
- Cut the tops off the warm rolls, fill with steak and serve with a dollop of chilli.
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