I accidentally stumbled across a South African national dish because I liked the sound of its name, Curry Bunny. In parenthesis, the menu said you could choose it in either beef or chicken. You would think it was curried rabbit wouldn’t you? But then what was the choice of beef or chicken?
I discovered that the Curry Bunny has actually nothing to do with cute little fluffy bunnies (much to the relief of my all-cuddly-animals-loving daughter). It is a South African street food made from a small hollowed out loaf of white bread filled with delicious curry inside. The originated in the city of Durban which is supposed to have the biggest South Indian population outside of the Indian subcontinent. The curry inside can be any sort of meat (mutton is especially popular) or even vegetarian. The top of the loaf is used to spoon out the curry.
My chicken curry bunny (also known as a Bunny Chow) was delicious. The curry soaked into the bread bowl and was a treat to eat in itself. For a bread lover like me, it was heaven. The curry bunny was served with a couple of small side dishes of vegetables called sambals. Traditionally, curry bunnies are eaten with Coca-Cola (named a curry and a wash down).
No one is entirely sure how Curry Bunny got its name. Some say it’s derived from the name for traders from the state of Gujurat (banias), a take away dish for poor people who had no bowls or even as lunch-boxes for the curry leftovers for Indian labourers on the sugar-cane plantations. In any event, the very eco-friendly bunny chow is supposed to be a full meal that doesn’t require any utensils (or for that matter, leaves no trash!).
If you would like to attempt a Bunny Chow at home, the BBC Good Food has a great recipe courtesy of British chef Atul Kochhar.
Curry bunnies are part of the rich multi-cultural culinary tradition of South Africa. Similar to Chicken Tikka Masala which was invented in England, Indian emigrants to South Africa created a dish that reflected their heritage and their present circumstances which ultimately became a national favourite.
If you liked this post, you will also like the related pins on my Just Go South Africa Pinterest board.