South African cuisine has a rich history of mixing cultures and interesting food discoveries. A Durban-original dish, the bunny chow is a delicious local curry traditionally placed in the hulled-out centre of a half loaf of bread.
By Taryn Wilson
There was a large number of Indian migrants arriving on the Durban coast during the Apartheid era and they brought with them a wide range of Indian dishes, which included their traditional curry. A particular favourite was bean curry with roti, which is a flat round bread that can be wrapped around the curry.
During this time many people began selling food on the streets in their local communities. Despite being a favourite, the roti could not hold the curry properly as it became soft and fell apart. Since they didn’t have takeout containers, they decided to use the cut-out loaves of bread as ‘containers’ for the curry takeout orders.
An alternative view suggests that the idea of the bunny chow originated from Indian caddies working at the Royal Durban Golf Course, whose lunch times were too short to eat their food. The story goes that they would ask friends to buy curry from local Indian sellers, and would bring it in cut-out bread loaves because of the lack of takeout containers.
The name ‘bunny chow’ is an adaptation of ‘bania’, the caste of the Indian men who sold curry, while ‘chow’ refers to food.
Many years later, the deliciousness of the bunny chow has spread to other parts of South Africa and is still a popular option for lunch.
Try out our mutton-curry bunny chow for a taste of something local