Bunny chow. An authentic South African street food – spicy lamb curry served in half a loaf of bread. No rabbits were harmed in the making of this recipe!
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 a Rabbit
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 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.
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.
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’.
How do you make a Bunny Chow?
Half a loaf per person is more than sufficient – you will probably find you won’t finish all the bread. I buy small sized loaves from my local supermarket.
Cut the loaves in half and pull the soft bread out of the centre leaving only the crust. You can toast this in the oven if you like, or leave it soft. The choice is yours.
Next make the curry. Brown the lamb in a little oil in a wok, 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. Next add the tomatoes and fry them with the onions until they release their juices. I cover with a lid ad this time 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.
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. (Why not have a look at these electric pressure cookers on Amazon – go on, treat yourself – you deserve it)
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.
To serve, 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 this?
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.
- 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.
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I hope you are enjoying tasting my South African recipes as much as I am enjoying making them.
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