Ok, it’s back to the streets! Since I introduced some Nigerian street food a few weeks ago, I decided to follow the theme and took Apple Crisp’s suggestion for a South African street food, Bunny Chow. No, no, no bunnies this time (but if you tried my Dutch Hare Stew, are you really going to tell me that it wasn’t delicious?), so you can rest easy.
Also known as Kota, this Indian-flavored curry is served in a hallowed out bread bowl, making it quick to grab and environmentally-friendly to eat. South Africa has a relatively large Indian population, a great percentage of whom are concentrated in Durban, a city with the biggest Indian population outside of India itself. As for why it’s called Bunny Chow? My reading says that it was named after baniya, an Indian name for a trader who initially started filling bean curry into a hollowed out bread loaf which served as a take-away container for the curry.
Since during the apartheid days so-called whites were not allowed to be seated in nonwhite restaurants white Durbanites satisfied their hankering after curry by buying Baniya Chows which because of their pronunciation eventually became Bunny Chows.
So there you have it. And now, you should make it.
1 pound beef, cubed
1 medium onion, sliced
1 can diced tomatoes
2 TB olive oil
2 bay leaves
½ cinnamon stick
2 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
½ inch piece ginger, grated
1 ½ tsp garlic
2 tsp curry powder, hot or mild, whatever you prefer
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp garam masala
2 sweet potatoes, cubed
1 or 2 (depending on the size) crusty, square loaves of bread or rice (I actually had mine with barley)
Cilantro to taste
1. Heat the oil in a stock pot and add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, onion and curry leaves. Fry until the onion is soft and light brown.
2. Add the curry powder, turmeric, ginger, garlic and tomatoes. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until everything is well combined.
3. Add the meat and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and about ¼- ½ cup of water. Lower the heat and simmer over low heat until the meat is tender and the potatoes cooked.
4. When the meat is cooked through and the potatoes are tender (about 30 minutes), add the garam masala mixture. Taste and season if necessary. Simmer for a further 10-15 minutes on a low heat.
5. Finally, if you’re doing the bread loaf. Halve the loaf and scoop out the soft white crumb, leaving the crust to form a “bowl”. Fill with deliciousness.