Having indulged in many a bunny over the years, I don’t recall ever wondering where this simple yet ingenious idea stemmed from. Last weekend I enjoyed a homemade bunny with a slight twist and began wondering…Bunny chow refers to a curry dish served in a hollowed out loaf of bread and is a common street food in Durban, South Africa. It’s origins are deeply rooted in South Africa’s apartheid era and though many legends exist, there is one plausible theory that makes for an interesting story.
The ‘Bunny’ or Bunny Chow was engineered by the Indian working class of Durban during the apartheid era and made for a cheap and convenient meal that satisfied their taste for curry. Some say it was the Indian Caddies at the Royal Durban Golf Course who couldn’t afford to leave work to have lunch. The curry in a hollowed out loaf of bread was cheap, easy to transport and made for an awesome, consumable container. Other stories claim it was the Indian slaves working the sugarcane fields that came up with the idea to transport their lunches.What ever the story, Bunny Chow originated in Durban, South Africa and fulfilled the needs of Indian workers during a time of great injustice and discrimination. Non-whites were considered sub-human and were not even permitted to enter restaurants, their creativity and ingenuity resulted in the creation of one of the countries greatest contributions to world cuisine.
The merchants selling the dish were known as Banias (an Indian caste) which is where the term ‘bunny’ originated. Based on this, it is highly likely that the dish was invented on Grey Street in Durban at the G.C. Kapitan Vegetarian Restaurant that operated from 1912 to 1992 and was famous for its Beans Bunny.
Today, Bunny Chow is enjoyed throughout South Africa and South African homes/cafes throughout the world. The Bunny that spawned this post, pictured below, was a quarter bunny layered with hot chips topped with a spicy, homemade lamb curry.
No Rabbits are harmed in the preparation of Bunny Chow!Links:
Facts about Durban: http://www.fad.co.za/Resources/bunny.htm
Street Food Around the World: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=9XCjAQAAQBAJ&pg=PA306&hl=en#v=onepage&q&f=false