Hay box – The Thermal Cook’s Recipes
For some time I have followed and admired the CookSister blog. It has wonderful photographs and great recipes. Cooksister (named after a braided, fried South African cake dipped in syrup) 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 were to use rolls as the bread arch and add a little more liquid. The main reason for the rolls was that I made a large pot for a group of 50 people, so the rolls were more convenient.
BUNNY CHOW- by Jeanne Horak-Druiff copyright CookSister
DISCLAIMER** – NO FLUFFY BUNNIES WERE DAMAGED IN THE MAKING OF THIS DISH! There is
some discussion about the origin of this street food consisting largely of curry served on a loaf of bread. One theory is that it originated in a restaurant on Durban’s Grey Street when, in the early 1900s, the caddies of the Royal Durban Golf Club could not have enough free time during lunch to run to Indian Grey Street to pick up a curry for lunch. The caddies asked their friends to bring them curries and, since there were no polystyrene containers at the time, the merchants sent the curry on hollowed-out loaves of bread. There were also no disposable cutlery, so bread was useful as a tool to dip into curry and use instead of a fork. This theory could also explain the rather unusual name: the merchants of Grey Street were called banias (an Indian caste of merchants), and “bunny” could be a corruption of this. Another similar theory is that bunnies originated as a means for workers (mostly Indians) to eat lunch on Kwa-Zulu Natal sugarcane plantations in the days before disposable containers.
The curry used in a bunny chow varies according to taste: chicken, lamb, beef or vegetables are popular, and the level of heat varies (beware, Durbaners like yours!). The bread component of a bunny chow can be a whole, half or quarter white bread, and the removed center is replaced on top of the curry before serving. The collected bread is dipped in the sauce before and eaten as an appetizer, and it is considered a very bad way to take this bread from someone without asking. As the level of curry decreases, you can tear pieces from the bowl of bread to use instead of cutlery, so overall it’s a fun but potentially messy meal and not suitable for first dates or important business lunches.
The next recipe is a great basic lamb curry and can also be served in rice. However, if you’re making bunnies, make sure there’s enough liquid for plenty of sauce – you want the sauce to be properly soaked in the “bowl” of bread. I was lucky enough that my lovely friend Simla brought me a packet of Osmans Taj Mahal roasted madras curry powder the last time she went home, which I use in my curry, but you can use any premixed curry powder you like (Rajah madras curry powder would work fine if you like it hot). You can also add chopped chili peppers at the end to flavor 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 flavors always improve on the second day.
Try them yourself and experience the authentic taste of South African street food!
BUNNY CHOW (sleeps
- kg lamb, diced
- medium onion, thinly sliced into rings
- x 400g can chopped tomatoes
- tablespoons vegetable oil 2-3
- curry leaves
- cinnamon stick
- green cardamom pods, lightly
- crushed ginger 1.5 teaspoons crushed garlic 4 teaspoons
- Durban masala (or store-bought curry powder substitute, as hot or mild as you like)
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 3-4 potatoes, diced
- Salt 4 – 8 crispy rolls cupped. Keep the bread hollowed out and serve to clean any curry that is put
- Fresh coriander leaves to decorate
crushed 1.5 teaspoons
on the plate
Cub the meat and cut the onion.
- Heat the oil in the inner pot and add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods,
- onion and
- curry leaves. Fry until onion is light golden brown.
- Add the mixture of masala (or curry powder), turmeric, ginger, garlic and tomato. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture resembles a puree.
- Add the meat and cook for about 10 minutes. Then add the potatoes and 400ml of water.
- Bring to a boil again, put the lid on and bring it down over low heat. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and place the inner pot in the insulated outer container.
- Close the lid and cook thermally slowly without power for a minimum of 2 hours.
- 10 minutes before serving, remove the inner pot from the outer container. Add the garam masala mixture. Taste the seasoning and add salt if necessary.
- Simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Serve on hollowed, crispy rolls and garnish with coriander leaves.
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