Bunnies, Book Club and Currying Favours; Re-creating Iconic Durban Bunny Chow

Updated: Feb 21

I’ve been trying to ingratiate myself with Beth so she'll invite me on some of the fabulous, off the beaten path travels of hers. No such luck! She does, however, invite me to cook for her, replicating some of the delicious meals she has sampled on her many trips. I benefit how, you ask? I get menu suggestions that lead to incredible conversations that spice up my life. Not exactly plane fare and a five star hotel, but I’ll take it.


Beth’s recent trip to Durban, South Africa, yielded me a new cooking experience; curry. I’m not a fan of spicy food and have never tried to make a curry. But this was fun fare to attempt and serve to my willing book club taste testers. I settled on an easy curry recipe for a Durban standard, Bunny Chow.



Considered fast food, Bunny Chow originates in Durban and is attributed to migrate workers from India and surround. The name 'Bunny' derives from BANIA, which is slang for a Gujarati person. Gujaratis are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group of western India.


A Bunny Chow is curry ladled Into a hollowed out half loaf of bread. They can be spicy vegetarian, or meat and veg combo. Lamb is especially popular in Durban and actual bunny is not. It is eaten Indian style, with the fingers and the quality of a bunny chow is judged by how well the gravy soaks into the bread.


Preparing the spice base first is very rewarding as the smell is lovely. After sautéing the spice base with onions, I divided them in half so that I could present both a meat and vegetarian option.


Using soft Italian rolls instead of the recommended white loaf, I hollowed them out and filled with both meat and vegetarian options. I served the bunnies at my book club and all my guests applauded the effort and enjoyed the Bunny Chow backstory.Unknown to me at the time, one of my guests, new to our book club, is from Durban. As a Durbanite, she is very familiar with curries and heartily approved this recipe!



THE RECIPE.


As I live in backwater Texas, some of the required ingredients were not available at my local grocery. Substitutions are noted.


Combine

1 teaspoon anise extract. (or 1 star anise)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. (or one cinnamon stick)

3 Cardamom pods

1/2. teaspoon fennel seeds

1/2. teaspoon cumin seed

1/2 Up oil......I used olive oil

1 medium onion chopped


Saute these ingredients over medium heat until they begin to darken and the aroma is strong.


Add these fine spices


1 1/2 tablespoons garam masala

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground hot pepper, cayenne

2 teaspoon turmeric


Cook. stirring continually, until the curry spices start to stick to the pan.


Add 1, 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes, reserve the juice and heat through.

Remove from heat. At this point I split my base in half to prepare both a meat and vegetarian option. If you do not require two different options, just follow your heart.


Brown 1 1/2 pounds of cubed beef, lamb or chicken. Substitute chickpeas for a meat-free option.



Add

2 teaspoons ground ginger or fresh minced

4 Cloves of garlic minced

1/2 cup green peas for colour

6 Curry leaves. I substituted with bay leaf and lime zest, as suggested on google search. Do NOT Sub with curry powder!



Return the spice base and reserved tomato juice and simmer for roughly 1 1/2 hours over low heat. If dry, add water or stock (to meat option) if you would like a richer curry.




To Serve


Cut the lid off of the unsliced bread loaf , then cut into portions. Hollow out each portion. Alternatively, use individual rolls as I did. Ladle in the curry. Eat with hands, or use a fork. Again, follow your heart.



Pair your Bunny with a very cold Tiger beer or a coconut milk based cocktail. Both reduce the heat of a spicy curry. See the Painkiller recipe in Bevvy of the Month.


Namaste

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About Us

 

Fearing the empty nest? Don't! Since my children have flown the coup, I have had time to refocus on my passions of travel, art, and writing.  This little blog is a handy tool that helps me share what I have learned with others.

 

I grew up in the States, but have lived a large chunk of my adult life in the UK. I now split my time between London and South Africa as well as chasing the sun around the world. 

 

 When my nest emptied, I began to plan my trips according to my own schedule, indulging in going solo. Once one gets used to traveling solo, it can be a very freeing experience. I seek out interesting, informative and unique experiences, and proffer advice with my network of readers.  I also have a lot of fun!

 

 Spa retreats and personal growth travel are core to what I do.  If there was a master's degree in the art of booking massages, I would be a scholarship student! I also plan to conquer Europe one city break at a time and with all that effort, I need as many beach holidays as possible. 

 

So please enjoy reading my tales of travel. I hope you are encouraged to get on that plane and perhaps have a few giggles along the way.

-Beth

When my large family was quite young, we lived in several international postings. In an age before Google Translate,  I negotiated the grocery stores of foreign countries in search of tasty ingredients. I soon became an expert at discerning information from food labels and also learned to cook healthy, quick meals from local sources. 

 

From this experience, I became quite the foodie, even before 'foodie' was a word. And now as an empty-nester and devotee of food travel networks, I  interpret those old recipes into smaller, even tastier versions. 

 

Being an editor and food/wine travel columnist,  I travel the world sampling indigenous recipes which I share on Old Bag on a Plane. I also love wine!

-Phyl

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As we are all not traveling much, now would be a great time to share favourite travel, wellness, and food stories. We would love to include your best tales on this blog. If you would like to collaborate, please email us here at oldbagonaplane@gmail.com