Bunny chow became popular in South Africa in the 19th century where some Indian labourers who worked in a sugar-cane field brought it with them. The Indian laborers brought the meat and vegetable curries that fill bunny chows to South Africa. The dish is an essential in Durban, the seaside epicenter of South Africa’s ethnic Indian community.
If you don’t go to Table Mountain, you haven’t been to Cape Town,” said Nelson Nundoo, whose family has operated Oriental, a local Indian restaurant, for three decades. “If you don’t eat a bunny, you haven’t been to Durban.
The travelling table mentioned that ordering bunnies in South Africa has it’s protocol. If you are looking for the best place to eat, ask for where to find ‘bunnies’, not bunny chow. When ordering ask for the size and type of meat…quarter mutton, not mentioning bunnies at all.
The best bunnies contain more meat than potatoes and employ bread that is soft and fresh enough to let the sauce soak deep into the bottom crust. The spice mix—which typically includes cumin, turmeric, fennel and cardamom—should be complex but not so fiery that it sends you reeling. The best bunnies come from Durban.
If you are ever visiting South Africa, be sure to have a taste of bunny chow…
Recipes for Bunny Chow (culled from thetravellingtable.com)
Prep time 35 minutes
3 tablespoons ghee or butter
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 skinless/boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon black mustard seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons mild curry powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 loaf unsliced bread or 4 large rolls
Melt the ghee or butter in a large skillet. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and saute until dark brown. Add the chicken breast pieces and brown on both sides. Add the tomato paste and mash around on the bottom of the pan to brown. Add the spices and toast for a minute or so, stirring constantly. Add the chicken stock and vegetables. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked. Turn off the heat and add the coconut milk.
Cut an unsliced load of bread into 4 pieces or cut tops off the rolls. Hollow out the centers and serve the curry in the bread bowl. Place the bread that you have torn out (the virgin) on top.