World Bunny Chow Day - 26 JuneJune 2020
#WorldBunnyChowDay Bunny Chow Amakhosi Style!
If you have visited Kwa Zulu Natal I am sure you have indulged in our famous Bunny Chow - there are many versions claiming how it started and who lays claim to the invention, but one thing is sure we in KZN claim it as our unique delicious dish and it is in fact in Durban’s DNA and dates back to the 1940s.
As per the article by Culture Trip, here goes the story that it was created during Apartheid for indentured Indian labourers, who were brought to work in KwaZulu-Natal’s sugarcane fields. This dish, which takes its name from the caste of Indian businessmen who sold the curry, ‘bania’, and slang for food, ‘chow’, could yield energy for a full day’s work. Plus, it was cheap to make and designed to be eaten with the hands – with the idea being that you start from the ‘virgin’ scooped-out bread at the top and end at the gravy-soaked bottom – so it just needed to be wrapped up in paper.
Another theory around its beginnings is that it was a mess-free alternative to roti and beans. As the law during Apartheid forbade people of colour entering restaurants and cafes, instead people were subjected to ordering meals from the side or back doors of restaurants. Being a thin wheat naan, roti fell apart. This meant people got creative and began using loaves of bread as take-out containers – scooping them out and filling them with the bean curry.
Some argue that bunny chow was invented for the Indian caddies at the Royal Durban Golf Course. It’s said that the caddies were unable to get off from work for long enough to eat their lunches in the Indian area in Durban’s central business district, Grey Street, so friends bought in curry from the city. With no access to take-out containers, said friends looked to hollowed-out loaves of bread.
Elsewhere, rumours abound that it was created by a chef at the Queen’s Tavern, while others claim it was created at a restaurant called Kapitan’s on the corner of Victoria and Albert Street in Durban.
We’ll never know the full truth, but one thing is known: bunny chow will live in our culture - So we accepted the challenge by our friend Mark Henson from Safari KZN and had some fun making a bush version of Bunny Chow - Chef our own manager Sonja Wentzel
Curry Venison oxtail Bunny Chow
1 kg oxtail
1 kg venison - we used Bush Pig
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 small cinnamon stick
¼ tsp caraway seeds
Three or four curry leaves
¼ tsp coriander seeds
3 tbs curry powder
2 garlic cloves
3 fresh, ripe chopped tomatoes
Tbs brown sugar
½ tsp salt
Black pepper to taste
Approximately 4 cups water
1 onion chopped
2 carrots, sliced
4 potatoes chopped
5 bay leaves
Spice meat with salt and pepper and brown and put aside
Put the black mustard seeds in a hot pan, when it starts popping, add small stick of cinnamon, caraway seeds, curry leaves (fresh or dry) coriander seeds and curry powder, let it heat in the pan for about 5 minutes then blend all the spices with pesl and morter or spice blender
Add blended spices to the tomato mixture and fry until reduced (approximately 15 minutes) on low heat
Add this paste to the browned meat
Layer the onions, carrots, potatoes and by leaves in a pot
Put the met on top and add the water
Close the lid and let it simmer for four hours
De-bone the meat, shred and put back into the pot to mix with the veg
Dish the meat into a large, fresh bun and enjoy
We made some home made buns - which we hollowed out then place the curry - have lots of serviettes and enjoy! We certainly did around a lovely fire in the sun!