A bunny chow-down in Durban

Posted by Clare Appleyard on 1 July 2011

If you’re looking for a good Indian curry in South Africa, there is no better place to start than Durban, the second largest city in the country. Durban is home to the largest Indian community outside of Asia, thanks to some early migrant labour in the 19th century. Having found it difficult to attract local Zulu labourers to work the sugar cane fields and coal mines, the British colonists resorted to imported Indian labour, giving rise to the largest grouping of people of Indian descent born outside of India.

Naturally, this makes Durban a great place to eat an authentic Indian curry.

One of the most famous forms of curry in Durban is known as the Bunny Chow. No, it doesn’t contain a bunny (or a rabbit for that matter), but chowing down on one is something you can’t miss in Durban.

Nobody quite seems to know how or where the Bunny originated, and one interpretation of the name is that, by eating it with your hands, you are imitating the way a rabbit eats. Of course, you’re free to eat yours with a knife and fork, but where’s the fun in that?

What exactly is a Bunny Chow then?

Quite simply a Bunny Chow comprises a portion of a loaf of bread (seemingly always white bread) hollowed out and filled with a generous dollop of curry. Available in ¼ loaf, ½ loaf or, for the extremely ravenous, a full loaf portion, a Bunny Chow is guaranteed to satisfy your starch and curry cravings. Easily considered a form of street food in South Africa, the Bunny Chow is most often served wrapped in blank newsprint paper, similar to English Fish & Chips.

Bunnies come with a variety of fillings, most commonly mutton, chicken or vegetarian but at the occasional up-market restaurant or take-away joint, you may even find a prawn Bunny on the menu.

So, how do you chow a Bunny?

When you unwrap your Bunny, you’ll find a steaming mass of curry, topped with a lump of bread – the same lump that was hollowed out of the loaf to make space for the curry. Best eaten with your fingers, start with the lump of bread on top, making sure to dip it into the delicious curry gravy underneath. Then, pick up your loaf and start to chow! Nibbling your way around the edges of the loaf is the best place to start and you’d do well to make sure you’ve got a plate on your lap and a serviette to hand – it’s going to get messy!

Be warned though, those Bunnies can be hot! With Durban curry powders such as “Hellfire” and “Mother-In-Law Exterminator”, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got some cooling beverages close by!

Where to find the best bunny chow in Durban

Getaway food editor Sarah Duff went in search of the best bunny chow in Durban. Read her blog to find out where it was.

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