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Archive for the ‘SOUTH AFRICAN’ Category

I have for some time followed and admired the blog CookSister. It has wonderful photographs and great recipes. Cooksister (named after a South African plaited, deep-fried syrup-dipped pastry) is written by Jeanne Horak-Druiff and when she published the recipe for Bunny Chow (a dish I had first seen at the Christchurch Food Festival) I asked her if she would allow me to use it.
I have included part of the description of the dish and the only changes I made was to use bread rolls as the bread bow and add a little more liquid. The main reason for the bread rolls was that I made a large pot of it for a party of 50 people so rolls were more convenient.

BUNNY CHOW- by Jeanne Horak-Druiff
copyright CookSister

**DISCLAIMER** – no fluffy bunnies were harmed in the making of this dish!!

There is some discussion as to the origin of this street food which broadly consists of curry ladled into a scooped-out loaf of bread. One theory is that it originated at a restaurant in Durban’s Grey Street when, in the early 1900s, caddies from the Royal Durban Golf Club were unable to get enough time off over lunch to dash to predominantly Indian Grey Street to pick up a curry for lunch. The caddies would ask their friends to bring back curries for them and because there were no polystyrene containers back then, the shopkeepers sent the curry in hollowed out loaves of bread. There was also no disposable cutlery, so the bread was useful as a tool to dip into the curry and use instead of a fork. This theory might also explain the rather unusual name: the shopkeepers on Grey Street were called banias (an Indian caste of merchants), and “bunny” could be a corruption of this. Another similar theory is that bunny chows originated as a means for the (mostly Indian) labourers to take lunch onto the sugar cane plantations of Kwa-Zulu Natal in the days before disposable containers.

The curry used in a bunny chow varies according to taste – chicken, lamb, beef or vegetable are all popular, and the level of heat varies (beware – Durbanites like theirs HOT!). The bread component of a bunny chow may be a whole, half or quarter white loaf, and the scooped out centre is replaced on top of the curry before serving. The scooped out bread is then dipped into the gravy before and eaten as an appetiser, and it is considered very bad form indeed to take somebody’s this bread without asking. As the level of the curry drops, you can rip off bits of the bread bowl to use instead of cutlery – so all in all it’s a fun but potentially messy meal and not suitable for first dates or important business lunches!

The recipe below is a great basic lamb curry and could also be served on rice. If you are making bunny chows though, be sure there is enough liquid for plenty of gravy: you want the gravy to soak properly into the bread “bowl”. I was lucky enough that my lovely friend Simla brought back a packet of Osmans Taj Mahal roasted Durban madras curry powder for me last time she went home, which I use in my curry – but you could use any ready-mixed curry powder that you like (Rajah madras curry powder would work well if you like it hot). You can also add chopped chillies at the end to spice up individual portions if some diners like it hotter than others. And as always, if you have time try to make the curry a day in advance because the flavours always improve on the second day.

So what are you waiting for? Try these for yourself and experience the authentic taste of South African street food!

BUNNY CHOW (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg lamb, cubed
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thinly into rings
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2-3 curry leaves
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 4 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 1.5 tsp crushed ginger
  • 1.5 tsp crushed garlic
  • 4 tsp Durban masala (or substitute shop-bought curry powder,as hot or mild as you like)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 3-4 potatoes, cubed
  • Salt
  • 4 – 8 crusty rolls hollowed out. Keep the hollowed out bread and serve to mop up any the curry that gets on the plate
  • Fresh coriander leaves to garnish

Method:

  1. Cube the meat and slice the onion.
  2. Heat the oil in the inner pot and add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, onion and curry leaves. Fry until the onion is light golden brown in colour.
  3. Add the masala mix (or curry powder), turmeric, ginger, garlic and tomato. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mix resembles a puree.
  4. Add the meat and cook for about 10 minutes. Then add the potatoes and 400ml of water.
  5. Bring back to the boil, put on the lid and turn down to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Turn off the heat and place the inner pot into the insulated outer container.
  7. Shut the lid and thermal slow cook without power for a minimum of 2 hours.
  8. 10 minutes before serving remove the inner pot from the outer container. Add the garam masala mixture. Test for seasoning and add salt if necessary.
  9. Simmer for a further 10 minutes on a low heat.
  10. Serve in hollowed out crusty rolls and garnish with the coriander leaves.

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