Bunny chow. An authentic South African street food – spicy lamb curry served in half a loaf of hollowed out bread. No rabbits were harmed in the making of this recipe!
What is a bunny chow
If you’ve never tasted a Bunny Chow before, then you are in for a treat. This is a deliciously spicy lamb curry served in a hollowed out loaf of bread. The gravy soaks into the bread making it unbelievably tasty. There is a saying that half a loaf is better than no bread – well, I’ve just updated it to be half a loaf filled with lamb curry is better than anything.
A Bunny Chow has nothing to do with rabbits
Contrary to what you might imply from the name, there are no rabbits in a bunny chow. The name actually originated from the Durban Indian population, known as ‘Banya’. Chow is if course just another name for food. So Banya Chow became Bunny Chow.
The Indian population of Durban were mainly farm workers working on the sugarcane fields. As there were no shops close by the sugarcane fields, they had to take their lunch with them to work. So the dish itself probably evolved out of the necessity to carry a sloppy curry to work for lunch, without a container. A hollowed out loaf of served the purpose very well.
Bunny Chow has now become a favourite South African street food available at most corner cafes. In addition to lamb, this curry is also made with beef, or chicken, or even goat.
Supper with Mel and Joe
I was telling my new English friends, Mel and Joe, about bunny chows and they were eager to try them. So I invited them round for supper to show th
Alexa is a voice-activated smart speaker that you can use for listening to music. In addition, you give it simple instructions such as ‘give me the weather forecast’, or ‘give me a recipe for bunny chows’, or ‘tell me a joke’. You can also use it to control smart appliances around your house. So provided you have it connected, you can set it to turn on the lights at a certain time, or even ask it to switch the kettle on to make a pot of tea.
Mel had great fun asking for all her
Ever polite, at the end of the evening, Mel called out ‘Night Alexa’ to which Alexa responded ‘Goodnight, see you tomorrow’.
Ingredients for a Bunny Chow
Whenever I read a recipe I like to have a look at the ingredients to see whether I have everything I need. To make it easy for you – I’ve listed the ingredients below. You can get the full list of ingredients and quantities in the printable recipe card further down in the post.
- Loaves of bread – you will need a 1/2 unsliced loaf per person. My local supermarket does small whole loaves which are an ideal size. If you can only get a large loaf, then you could cut into thirds, or even quarters.
- Cubed lamb – I like to buy a leg of lamb from the butcher and get him to debone it for me. Then I cube the lamb myself. That way I can control the sizes of the lamb cubes.
- Sunflower Oil used to sear the lamb
- Chicken or Lamb stock if required, for additional liquid if the curry is too dry
The following vegtables should all be cut into small dice, approxiately 1cm in size.
- Red Pepper
Spices and seasonings
These spices are used to add the curry flavouring. You will probably find you already have most of them in your cupboard .
- Hot Curry Powder
- Garam Masala
- Mustard Seeds
- Fennel Seeds
- Ground Coriander
- Tomato Paste
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
How to make a bunny chow
Prepare the bread cases
- Cut the loaves in half.
- Remove the bread from the centre of each loaf. To do this, run a sharp knife down the inside of each edge, forming a square in the loaf. Try to keep about half an inch away from each edge.
- Now gently insert your fingers down one side and pull the bread away from the bottom. Aim to leave about 1cm of bread all round.
- Be careful not to cut through, otherwise it will leak when you add the curry. You can toast this in the oven if you like, or leave it soft. The choice is yours.
- Keep the removed bread for dipping in the sauce as you eat the bunny chow. You can also turn the bread into breadcrumbs by blitzing it in the food processor. Freeze the crumbs in a ziploc bag for later use.
Make the curry
- Chop the lamb into approxiately 2cm cubes.
- Heat the oil in a wok and brown the lamb until it is no longer pink. Do this in batches, don’t overcrowd the pan or the meat will release too many juices and boil rather than brown.
- Remove the browned meat from the pan and set aside.
- Add the onions and red peppers to the pan, and let them fry until the onions are translucent.
- Now add the tomatoes and fry them with the onions until they release their juices. I cover with a lid at this stage and let them sweat their juices out.
- Add all the spices, give it a good mix and then add the carrots. There should be sufficient liquid from the tomatoes, but if it needs more liquid you can add a cup of stock made with either a chicken or lamb cube.
Transfer to pressure cooker
- Put the browned meat and the vegetables into your electric pressure cooker and let it cook on the meat setting for 15 minutes
- If you don’t have an electric pressure cooker, you can just leave everything in the wok, cover and let simmer until the meat is tender. It will probably take about 35 to 40 minutes. Check every now and then to ensure it does not dry out.
- You could even use a traditional pressure cooker – just check the manufacturer’s instructions for the length of time you should cook the lamb.
- Release the steam on the pressure cooker and test for flavour. This is where I normally make adjustments. If it needs sweetness, add more chutney. If it needs more bite, add more chilli.
- Finally, add the potatoes and give it another 10 minutes in the pressure cooker.
- Ladle the mixture into the pre-prepared bread cases, serve and enjoy.
- You can serve the centre bits of bread on the side to mop up the juices.
Can I freeze a Bunny Chow?
You can freeze the cooked curry, but don’t freeze it in the bread cases – make those fresh when you need them.
You can keep the curry for up to three months in a suitable container in the freezer.
To use, allow to defrost for a few hours in the fridge, or defrost it in the microwave.
Heat in a saucepan on the stove until piping hot.
What can I do with leftovers?
There is so much you can do with leftover lamb curry.
- Turn it into delicious snackwiches. Chop up any large lumps of meat, spoon the curry between 2 slices of buttered bread and pop it into your snackwich iron. If you don’t have a snackwich, check the equipment section below for details.
- Make curried dough balls – if you’ve run out of vetkoek, you can make instant vetkoek using a simple 2-ingredient dough. Click the link for details.
- Serve any left over curry on a bed of rice for a quick and easy supper. You could accompany this with a salad made from chopped onions, tomatoes sprinkled with a tablespoon of chopped fresh coriander leaves.
Do you have any other curry recipes?
If you enjoy a good curry, you might like to try one of my other curry recipes.
- Easy lamb curry – a classic South African lamb curry
- Lamb curry in pita bread – a handy way to use up leftover roast lamb
- Vetkoek and curried mince – tasty beef mince curry served in vetkoek
And while you are here, why not browse through my collection of South African recipes.
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To make this recipe you will need the following equipment. In case you are missing something I have included some links to my Amazon shop pages, where you might just find the item you are looking for.
- Wok or large frying pan with a lid. If you are going to buy a wok, do youself a favour and get one with a lid. Even though woks are traditionally used for stir-frying you will get so much more use out of it if you have a lid. I use my wok for most of my cooking and find the lid invaluable.
- Electric pressure cooker – this isn’t really essential, you can cook this recipe on the stove. You can even use a traditional pressure cooker – just check the manufacturer’s instructions for the length of time you should cook the lamb. I have a Pressure King pressure cooker and it even has a slow-cooker function – two appliances for the price of one. Bargain!
- Snackwich – for delicious leftovers. This one is another of those 2-for-1 appliances. You can get one that converts into a waffle iron too, so you can make homemade waffles
- And don’t forget the Amazon Echo Dot – just for fun.
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Recipe – Bunny Chow
- 2 smallish Loaves of bread
- 1 kg lamb cubed
- 3 Tablespoons Sunflower Oil to sear the lamb
- 1 cup Chicken or Lamb stock if required
- 4 medium Potatoes (cut into small cubes) approximately 3 cups
- 2 medium Onions (cut into 1 cm dice) approximately 2 cups
- 4 medium Tomatoes (cut into 1 small dice) approximately 2 cups
- 2 medium Carrots (cut into 1 cm dice) approximately 1 cup
- 1 large Red Pepper (cut into small dice) approximately 1 cup
Spices and seasonings
- 2 Tablespoons Hot Curry Powder
- 2 Tablespoons Garam Masala
- 1 teaspoon Mustard Seeds
- 1 teaspoon Fennel Seeds
- 1 teaspoon Turmeric
- 1 teaspoon Ground Coriander
- 6 cloves Garlic finely chopped
- 1 inch piece Ginger peeled and finely chopped
- 3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
- 2 Tablespoons Chutney
- 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Peel and dice the vegetables, garlic and ginger.
- Cut the bread loaves in half and carefully remove the inside. Try to leave a casing about ½ thick all round. See Note 1 and Note 2
- Heat the oil in a large wok and sear the lamb. You may have to do this in batches.
- Remove the lamb from the wok, add the onion and red pepper and stir-fry gently until the onion is translucent.
- Add the tomatoes and continue stir frying to release the juices.
- Add all the spices and seasonings and stir well to combine.
- Add the carrots
- Transfer the contents of the wok to an electric pressure cooker. Check the level of the liquid. See Note 3.
- Cook on full pressure (or the meat setting if you have one) for 15 minutes. See Note 4.
- Release the steam, and check for seasoning. See Note 5.
- Reset the pressure cooker and cook for a further 10 minutes.
- Serve in the hollowed bread, with the centre of the bread on one side for mopping up any juices.
- To remove the centre of the loaf, run a sharp knife down the inside of each edge, forming a square in the loaf. Try to keep about half an inch away from each edge. Now gently insert your fingers down one side and pull the bread away from the bottom. Keep the removed bread for dipping in the sauce as you eat the bunny chow.
- I like to put my hollowed out bread into a hot oven for a few minutes to crispen it before adding the curry. Other people prefer not to do this, and to leave it soft. It’s up to you.
- Check the amount of liquid. There should be sufficient liquid from the tomatoes, but if you feel there is not enough liquid then you can top up with chicken or lamb stock. (You can make it with a stock cube if you don’t have stock to hand).
- If you don’t have an electric pressure cooker, you could use an ordinary one. Failing that, just allow to simmer, covered, in the wok until the meat is almost tender. At that point add the potatoes, replace the lid and continue cooking until the potatoes are cooked and the meat is tender.
- This is the point where I normally decide that ‘something is missing’. If it isn’t sweet enough, add some more chutney. It if isn’t hot enough, add additional chilli.
- The calorie count assumes that all the bread will be eaten.
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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