South Africans are spoilt for choice when it comes to picking our top country cuisine, and it’s no surprise that many people refer to the beautiful Bunny Chow as our number one creation.
A little history lesson
Chopping the top off a half-loaf of bread, hollowing it out and filling it with a saucy, spicy curry is a technique that’s been commonplace in South African homes since the 1940s, if the history books are to be believed. The half-loaf is a pretty portable way to serve curry up to hungry patrons, so it began as an easy takeaway option, replacing the sometimes-messier roti, or where roti was unavailable.
Of course, to a tourist, they might be alarmed by the name, but no rabbits have to be harmed in the making of a bunny chow. In fact, the more popular option when it comes to picking a bunny chow off the menu usually ends up being the vegetarian option. As for the name, there are many versions to the story within the “Bunny Chow” etymology but I quite like the one that claims it’s because we eat them like a rabbit would – with our hands. Yes, you’ll need to ditch your knife and fork to truly enjoy a bunny chow, because that’s the way a true Durbanite tucks in.
While vegetarian options are often more popular (a quarter beans bunny is a lunch staple in Durban!), there are probably hundreds of options out there. Mild to hot, spicy or not, with lamb, mutton, beef or even prawn curries to soak up with fresh and warm bread, you’ll find the perfect bunny chow for you in Durban. Served with sambals on the side, and accompanied by a chilled beer or a refreshing cooldrink, a bunny chow is best tucked into with friends.
Patel’s Vegetarian Refreshment Room
031 306 1774
Words: Cath Jenkin | Images: Paul Cassells