South African “Street Food” Durban Bunny Chow
I love Indian inspired food, curries, street food and anything that is spicy and can be eaten with your hands! I was raised on curries, and my dad is famous for his curry recipes, as well as mum who makes the most amazing Cape Malay Pickled Fish and Curry Puffs, so it is no surprise that when I was creating my “Flavour Story” for the McCormick’s site, my story was heavily laced with curry powder, chillies and masala. As part of their 125th anniversary, McCormick asked 125 food writers and bloggers from all over the world to share their “Flavour Story”, and I am very pleased and proud to say that I was one of those 125 global writers. You can read my Flavour Story on the Schwartz webiste, but for now here is a small excerpt:
…..”Spices and herbs have been woven through my life ever since I can remember – like the beautifully faded threads in an old family sampler or a Persian rug, most of my childhood and adult memories are based around food and the flavours that made those events so memorable. From my earliest days when I lived in South Africa to more recent times spent at my home in SW France, spices in particular have been essential to my daily menu planning and have injected heat, warmth, fragrance and taste into the meals I cook for my family and friends”…..read more
As part of my “Schwartz Flavour Ambassador” commitment, I was asked to develop a recipe that highlights one of the new flavour forecasts for 2014, of which there are five Top Trends:
Chillies Obsession: Food lovers everywhere are seeking out their next big chilli thrill.
Modern Masala: Indian food is finally having its moment, breaking free of its traditional confines with modern interpretations.
Clever Compact Cooking: Proving that big flavours can come from small spaces, cooks in urban kitchens are making the most of what’s available.
Mexican World Tour: Mexican flavours are making their way around the globe, with people everywhere discovering new aspects of this bright, casual cuisine.
Charmed by Brazil: The world’s attraction to Brazilian cuisine is heating up, thanks to its seductive mix of global and native influences.
I decided to go back to my roots and develop a South African recipe, one that is as modern and relevant today as it was when it was first served in the depression of the 1930’s in Durban, “Bunny Chow”, or “Bunny” as it is called locally. Despite its name, there are NO bunnies in this curry, and in fact the original recipe was vegetarian and was made with sugar beans and potatoes, but nowadays you are more likely to be offered a “bunny” made from lamb or mutton. The origins of this dish are fairly sketchy, with many tales and myths about just how it got its name, but, my South African friend Zuri says this……
“This is a story: with a recipe. During the Great Depression in 1933 Indians, whites and Chinese in Durban, South Africa, suffered hunger like everyone else. The kids then discovered that the cheapest curry they could buy (for a quarter penny or half a penny) was made by a vegetarian Indian caste known in Durban slang as the Bania. It was made from dried sugarbeans (no meat). The children didn’t have plates, and one kid got the bright idea to hollow out a quarter bread, asked the seller to put the bean curry in the hollowed-out bread, and then used the broken bread he’s taken out as a sort of eating utensil. Chinese food was called “chow”. Somehow the two words came together: Bania Chow. In time it simply became known as Bunny Chow. Bunny Chow was what the Indian sugar plantation workers took as their day’s food to the lands: curry in hollowed-out bread halves. Cheap and practical … Today it does not matter what your skin colour or station in life is: Durbanites and people from the Kwa-Zulu-Natal province love their bunny chow … For this story he managed to get from “the mysterious Lingela” who makes bunny chows daily, I am indebted to “Kitchenboy”. Should he happen upon this story, he’ll know who he is … Thanks, Braam!”…….
My recipe for “bunny” (you never refer to it as bunny chow, the locals simply call it bunny”) is made with chicken and potatoes and a “Durban Masala” mixture I created for this recipe, and one which I will be making again in the future for other curry recipes as it is amazingly fragrant with a warm, seductive heat. As part of an authentic bunny is the bread loaf, and as I am in France at the moment where it is impossible to buy a “white unsliced”, I made my own white bread loaf for this recipe.
Bunny is always eaten as if it was street food in your home, with your hands, and just to be authentic, we did enjoy this with our hands, albeit it on a plate to catch the juices and bread crumbs! If you want to make this vegetarian, then just omit the meat and add beans, or if you fancy something meatier, than use beef or lamb……it’s really just curry in a bread bowl! I can see this being a fabulous recipe to serve for friends and family at a large gathering, or why not serve it as part of a summer “braai” with boerewors and sosaties? I hope you enjoy my version of “Bunny” if you make it, and don’t forget to pop over to read all of the Flavour Stories here: McCormick Flavour Stories. That’s all for today, see you soon with another Masala recipe for Chip Week! Karen
South African “Street Food” Bunny Chow
My take on the traditional South African street food dish, “Bunny Chow”; although this was originally made with beans and vegetables, and it more often than not made with lamb or mutton nowadays, I have made this recipe with chicken.
Whole Spices Step 1
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 6 whole cardamom pods
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoon crumbled curry leaves
- 1 large onion, peeled and roughly diced
- 4 potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 treaspoon ground mace
Bunny Chow Curry
- 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 450g chicken, skinned and boned, breasts of thighs (cut into cubes)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely diced
- 2 large curry leaves
- 150mls chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 whole loaf of white bread (cut in half and the into quarters, with the middle hollowed out to make a)
- fresh coriander to garnish
My take on the traditional South African street food dish, “Bunny Chow”; although this was originally made with beans and vegetables, and it more often than not made with lamb or mutton nowadays, I have made this recipe with chicken. This recipe is fun to serve and is extremely filling and tasty. I created this recipe as part of my contribution as a “Spice Ambassador” for Schwartz UK and The Flavour Forecast with McCormicks’ Flavour of Together campaign, as part of their 125th anniversary celebrations. My Flavour Story can be seen here: Karen Burns-Booth Flavour Story
|Step 1||Put the oil, whole spices, onion and potatoes into a large pan with a lid and fry over a gentle heat until the onion is soft and translucent.|
|Step 2||Mix the dry Durban Masala ingredients together.|
|Step 3||Add the chopped tomatoes, chicken pieces, garlic, curry leaves and the Durban masala mix to the whole spices, onion and potato mixture and mix well. Heat over a low heat for 1 minute before adding the stock (water can be used too). Cover and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft and the chicken is cooked.|
|Step 4||When you are ready to serve the Bunny Chow, place the prepared bread on a plate or a large napkin and ladle the curry into the cavity of the bread “bowls”. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with sambals on the side.|
|Step 5||The bread: the best loaf for the bread bowls is a unsliced, rectangular white loaf (called Government Sandwich Loaf in South Africa). Cut the top off the loaf, and keep to one side and then cut the main loaf into quarters or halves, depending on the size. Serve with the top of the bread (cut into handy pieces) which is used as a “dipping” utensil. Bread rolls can also be used. Cut into the bread with a knife to make a border and then scoop the inside bread crumbs out – keep them for other recipes. I made my own small white loaf for this recipe.|
A vegetarian recipe based in the original “Bunny:
Another South African Recipe:
Flavour of Together – raising $1.25 million to help feed those in need.
Schwartz is part of the global family of McCormick flavour brands who have been making the flavours people love for 125 years.
The flavours you share with your family and friends. The flavours that have been passed down through generations. The flavours that we remember. The flavours that shape our lives.
To celebrate this special occasion, we’re bringing people across the world together to share flavour stories – and help feed those in need. We’re asking you to share your stories about flavour, and for each story that is shared, McCormick will donate $1 to help feed those in need.
In 2014, we will collect 1.25m stories and raise up to a total of $1.25million for United Way and their partners worldwide.
While you’re sharing your stories with us, we’ll share our best stories with you. All year long, we’ll be celebrating the hottest trends in the culinary world through the McCormick® Flavour Forecast® 2014: 125th Anniversary Edition. Through videos, pictures, and testimonials from flavour experts, we’ll spend all year sharing captivating tips, recipes and stories. And we hope you’ll do the same!
About Focus on Food – Our UK ‘Flavour of Together’ charity partner
In the UK, the proceeds of Schwartz’ 125th Anniversary charity efforts will be donated to Focus on Food.
Focus on Food is a charitable food education programme that believes practical cooking skills are essential for healthy, happy lives. We support schools and communities to run hands-on cooking sessions through offering training, resources, equipment and inspirational Cooking Bus visits.
Our work is especially important today in the face of the obesity crisis, growing health inequalities and a gap in skills and knowledge around food, nutrition and cooking. We aim to reach those communities that need us most, and team up with like-minded partners to make a real, long-lasting impact.
In the UK renowned Indian chef, Cyrus Todiwala and leading food writer & blogger, Karen Burns-Booth will be Schwartz and McCormick flavour ambassadors and share their flavour stories.
Karen Burns-Booth is a creative freelance food writer and blogger with a passion for local and seasonal produce. Her love of seasonal food and recipes stems from her early childhood whilst observing her grandmother and mother’s cookery skills, both in rural Northumberland and whilst living overseas in South Africa and Hong Kong. More about Karen >
From ‘chef of genius’ to ‘creator of the classiest curries in the City’ – this Bombay-born Parsee chef has been called all manner of good things. After leaving a secure Executive Chef role in the Taj Group of Hotels in Goa 21 years ago to start again in the UK, Cyrus’ entrepreneurial spirit required him to be brave and daring to combine flavours, spices and ingredients in ways no other Indian chef has done before. More about Cyrus >