Being a South African, I’ve realised that where I come from is unlike any place on earth. Being labelled the rainbow nation, we are a diverse mix of tradition, race and culture. We have 11 official languages and over 5 dominant religions. There’s no boundaries or limitations when it comes to our expression. And that’s why I think being a South African is the best thing to be. We simply, coexist.
More than anything else, it fascinates me to see how the different cultures have influenced each other. This influence has strongly invaded our cooking as well. We have signature South African dishes such as, boerewors, bunny chows, chakalaka and our favourite milk tart! That have been created taking influence from all cultures.
Today I will be sharing my version of the bunny chow. It has all the key components with just a little something extra.
A bunny chow is a dish that originated from Durban, South Africa. Invented by the Indian community, it is a spicy oriental curry that is then stuffed into a hollowed out loaf of bread and served with a sambal or salsa. This is true South African goodness if you ask me! The curry can either consist of lamb, chicken, beef or if you’re vegetarian the bean bunny is just as good.
My curry recipe combines beans and beef in a warm tomato curry filled with fresh spices and all the goodness of rich Indian cooking. This isn’t exactly the traditional curry but I love this recipe because it really works with any carb or starch
This curry can be enjoyed on its own as well, with bread or roti.
- 1 kg fillet steak cubed
- 2 tins butter beans
- 2 onions chopped
- 3 medium tomatoes grated
- 1 tbsp. Purified butter (ghee)
- 8 curry leaves
- 2 tsp. cumin seeds
- 1 tsp. mustard seeds
- 2 whole green chillies
- 1 tsp. red chilli powder
- ¼ tsp. turmeric
- 2 tsp. coriander powder
- ½ tbsp. ground chilli paste*
- 1 tsp. ginger paste*
- 1 tsp. crushed garlic*
- 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp. salt or A/R
- 2 loaves of unsliced bread
- *NB if you have ginger garlic masala pre made, use 1 table-spoon of that instead of the chilli, garlic and ginger pastes.
- On a medium heat, sauté the onions in the purified butter until soft in a large, deep pot.
- Reduce to a low heat then add the mustard seeds, curry leaves , cumin seeds and whole green chillies, and let it braise until the chilli becomes soft
- Add in your cubed steak and let the meat cook for about 10 to 15 minutes. On a medium heat
- Once the water in the pot has reduced add in your grated tomatoes, ginger garlic paste, red chilli paste, turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder, Worcester sauce and salt.
- Let the ingredients cook for about 5 mins. Add about 1 ½ litre of water and let it boil for 6 to 10 minutes
- Add the strained beans and boil for about 8 mins.
- Remove from the heat and warm by boiling the curry again for about 10 minutes when you’re ready to serve.
When you’re ready to serve:
- Cut the bread in to 2 halves
- Hollow out the centre of the bread, leaving just the base intact.
- Set the centre aside
- Fill the hollowed out centre of the bread loaf with the curry
- Place the bread centre back on top
- Make a simple sambal using, chopped onion, tomato, green chilli, salt , pepper and vinegar and serve on the side
Warning! This Is A Hands On Dish! No Knives and Forks Allowed.
How to eat:
- You can start by breaking off pieces of bread from the centre that you’ve cut out, use that to soak up the curry from the centre.
- When you’re done with your soft bread, you can start by breaking off sides of the loaf and eating it with the curry in the centre
This recipe can serve up to 4 people. It’s a great dish for family nights, and the kids love breaking pieces of bread and dunking it into the curry.
For a mutton curry you can substitute the steak and beans for mutton chunks and leave out the mustard seeds and Worcester sauce.
This saucy, hearty meal is absolutely worth the calories! Go ahead and give it a try. If you happen to be in Durban I suggest you try the bunnies from Café Rumana in Ballito, as well as Oriental Restaurant in Umhlanga. These are by far the best bunny chows I have had!
Oriental restaurant 6 Aurora Dr, Umhlanga, +27 31 584 7027
Café Rumana- 12 L6 Ballito Bay Mall, 1 Link Rd, Dolphin Coast, +27 32 946 2811