South African-favourite Bunny Chow actually originated in India but is a famous Durban street food. The dish is cheap, filling and an absolutely delicious takeaway meal. But, strangely, it’s a dish that you would have to really look for in India.
According to a BBC travel video, it is a dish consisting only the base of a loaf of bread that is cut in a square, cored out and filled with thick, spicy mutton curry. It is served with rice and carrot salad.
A traditional bunny chow is made with mutton, chicken, or kidney beans with it is beautiful crust strong enough to hold the gravy filling. But, those who hate making a mess might not like the traditional way of serving it without a fork since you’re supposed to use your fingers to eat.
If you are thinking you have to fly out to South Africa to taste it then don’t worry because the dish has made an appearance at a few places in Delhi and Mumbai.
In case not in a mood to cook, eat here
Mumbai: 145 Bandra (Rs 381); NRI, BKC (Rs 600); Bhookha Beirdo, Bandra (Rs 329)
Delhi: Papa Buns, Satya Niketan (Rs 250); The Classroom, Gurgaon (Rs 320); Our Story, Noida (Rs 275)
But, how did the dish end up in South Africa?
It is said that Bunny Chow was first made in the 1940s when Indian immigrants arrived in South Africa to work on sugar plantations. The workers needed something to carry their lunch to the field and a hollowed out loaf of bread was quite a convenient carrier to transport their curries.
Another legend has it that, during Apartheid, the Indian merchant class (called “banias”) in Durban made it for their black customers. Since they were unable to serve black customers through the front door of their eateries, so they used to parcel their curry in scooped-out bread. It was an edible container and the whole thing would be wrapped in newspaper and handed to them through the back door of curry houses.
How did it get its name?
According to Indian cookery doyenne Madhur Jaffrey, and historian Lizzie Collingham, who wrote “Curry: A Tale of Cooks & Conquerors”, bunny chow was made by “banias” in Durban. The word bunny was popularised after the regulars kept mispronouncing the word “bania”. And, chow is the slang for food.
Craving for one, here is a simple recipe: