South Africa has a relatively large Indian population, a great percentage of whom are concentrated in KwaZulu-Natal. In fact Durban, KwaZulu-Natal' s largest city is recognized as the city with the biggest Indian population outside of India itself! Since Indians started arriving in South Africa in the mid-1800s it is no wonder that their cuisine has had such an impact on the eating habits of South Africans.
Bunny Chow is a dish which is uniquely South African, the name appears in South African English dictionaries. There is some mystery as to where the name originated. Most versions believe that it was initially named after baniya an Indian name for a trader who initially started filling bean curry into a hollowed out bread loaf which served as a take-away container for the curry.
Since during the apartheid days so-called whites were not allowed to be seated in nonwhite restaurants white Durbanites satisfied their hankering after curry by buying Baniya Chows which because of their pronunciation eventually became Bunny Chows.
Nowadays, Bunny chows may be filled with any kind of dry curry and the bread container may range from ⅓rd of a normal sandwich loaf or crusty French loaf or even the entire sandwich loaf depending upon how many people you wish to feed. The bread container may be used as is or toasted.
In the recipe given here I use a full sandwich loaf and I actually complete the cooking of the Bunny Chow in the hollowed out loaf.
1 piece fresh root ginger
5½ oz [150g] green beans
large handful coriander leaves
1 large white sandwich loaf
6 tbsp [90ml] vegetable oil
3 tbsp [45ml] curry leaves
2 tsp [10ml] crushed dried chillies
1 lb can [470g] chopped tomatoes
1 tsp [5ml] ground garam masala
2 1 lb [470g] tins kidney beans
2 tbsp [30ml] lemon juice
TO MAKE THE BUNNY CHOW
shred the root ginger
Peel and dice the onions and potato
top and tail the green beans and chop them roughly
chop the coriander leaves
Slice a 1¼ inch [3 cm] layer horizontally off the top of the sandwich loaf. Place the top to one side. Remove most of the loaf's interior while leaving a ½ inch [ 1 cm] crust on the ends, sides and bottom of the loaf.
Heat the oil, on high heat, in a large saucepan and then add the curry leaves and reduce the heat to low after about 10 seconds and stir in the shredded root ginger, diced onions and crushed chillies. Cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes until the onions are really soft. Uncover the pan and continue cooking until the onions have a golden tinge.
Add the diced potatoes, recover the pan, and cook for about 12 minutes until the potatoes are almost tender. You will need to remove the lid and give the potatoes a stir every two minutes to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Uncover the pan and add the tomatoes and garam masala, increase the heat and fry briskly until the tomatoes darken in colour and the masala thickens.
Add the green beans stirring to mix, and cook for one minute then add the kidney beans together with the liquid from the tins. Stir well and bring to the boil reduce the heat and simmer for about 12 minutes or until the curry thickens
Preheat oven to 350°F. [180°C]
Stir the lemon juice, and chopped coriander leaves into the curry mixture. Spoon the hot curried beans into the hollowed out loaf but don't fill it completely. Replace the cut off loaf top pushing down firmly to ensure that it fits tightly and the masala soaks into the loaf.
Wrap the loaf completely in tinfoil taking care to fold over the
edges of the tinfoil to seal it. Place the tinfoil wrapped loaf in the oven and bake for 15 minutes
Serve the Bunny Chow immediately, still wrapped in its tinfoil. You can place it on a board on the table unwrap it and remove the top together with the corners which you will use as scoops to eat the curry
Unless you're South African you will find Bunny Chow an unusual way to eat your curry. It makes a very tasty and convenient meal.