Ever tried an authentic bunny chow? For most, if they haven’t, they’re probably already wishing they had! The bunny chow has been a classic dish in Durban since the 1940s, but have you ever wondered how this came about?
Firstly, the bunny chow usually comprises of a hollowed-out quarter loaf of white bread, which is filled with a selection of Indian curries, often served with a side of carrot salad or tomato, chilli and onion salad. The inner dough which is cut out of the loaf is usually eaten first, mixed with the curry of choice.
There is a belief that the bunny chow was created during the Apartheid era by indentured Indian labourers who were brought from India to work in the sugarcane fields in KwaZulu-Natal. In those days, the caste of Indian businessmen who were known to sell curry were classified as ‘bania’ men, and the word ‘chow’ is known to be slang for food- hence the name ‘bunny chow’. This dish is known to be able to fill a person and provide enough energy for a full-days work.
Second, to this, there is another belief that the bunny chow was introduced as a less messy alternative to roti and curry. During apartheid, people of colour were not permitted to sit and eat in at restaurants and were instead subjected to eating at the back doors of restaurants. This meant that meals needed to be easier to eat, and what is easier than using a loaf of bread as a type of ‘take-out container’, and filling it with a curry of choice? Not to mention, all of it could be eaten, leaving not much to be cleaned up.
There is also a rumour that does its rounds that the bunny chow was created by a chef that was employed at the Queen’s Tavern, while others believe that it was first created at Kapitan’s on the corner of Albert and Victoria Street in Durban.
Regardless of all the mystery surrounding the bunny chow, this dish is surely one of Durban, KwaZulu-Natal’s most famous and no doubt one of the tastiest authentic meals to be had.
If you’re looking for a great bunny chow to enjoy over the festive season, be sure to check out TSD Ultra Lounge in Springfield, or Canecutters in Glenwood or Umhlanga, just to name a few!
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