Culinary Ambassadors: Bunny Chow, South African Street Food
Serious Eats' Culinary Ambassadors check in from time to time with reports on food fare in their homeland or countries of residence. Here's the latest! (Find out more about CA or join here!) —The Mgmt.
Although the boerwoers sandwich (the "boerie roll") may be the most prolific South African street food, this riff on a hot dog–bun combo isn't exactly unique. For a true one-of-a-kind offering, look no further than our bunny chow — a loaf of cheap, white sandwich bread that's been hollowed out and filled with Indian-style curry.
The loaf — which can be ordered in quarter or half sizes for those not inclined to hork down a loaf of bread for lunch — gets filled with a saucy curry and is then capped with the removed bread. The dish's workingman origins mean that cutlery isn't encouraged: Locals just eat around it like a hot, gravy-filled ice cream cone, nibbling the container down as the filling dwindles. Oh, and watch out for the bones, which are typically left in.
The East Coast city of Durban is the concoction's original home, but its popularity has spread nationwide. You can pick up a one-quarter bunny chow for around US$1 (bean) to US$4 (chicken) from any number of compact sidewalk takeaway shops sprinkled throughout the country.
Wondering what's up with the name, and worrying whether those are crunchy little bunny bones in your lunch? Wikipedia claims that the name derives from the Indian Bania caste credited with the chow's invention; and though sheep and chickens are often on the menu, no actual bunnies were harmed in the making of this lunch.
I had a few bites of a chicken bunny when we first moved to Durban in May — enough to know I prefer my curry on a plate, and my white bread wrapped around some peanut butter.
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To find out more about the Culinary Ambassadors initiative or sign up, see this SE Talk thread »