Bunny Chow: The Indian-Inspired Curry In A Bread Bowl

Bunny Chow: The Indian-Inspired Curry In A Bread Bowl

Bunny Chow: The Indian-Inspired Curry In A Bread Bowl

By Slurrp Desk

Updated:Jul 21, 2023

Discover the origins of Bunny Chow, a beloved South African dish born in Durban’s Indian community during apartheid. Learn how ingenious Indian immigrants served curry in hollowed-out bread loaves to African workers, making it a portable meal. Experience culinary fusion and cultural significance by trying our recipe to make your own version at home.

Bunny Chow: The Indian-Inspired Curry In A Bread Bowl

Image Credit: big_little_bombaye/Instagram

Significantly, Bunny Chow embodies South Africa’s cultural diversity and represents a remarkable fusion of Indian and African culinary traditions. It serves as a poignant reminder of the nation’s history, reflecting both hardship and unity. This beloved dish has transcended socio-economic boundaries, becoming a symbol of shared experiences and breaking down barriers. Its continued popularity in South Africa stands as a testament to its enduring cultural relevance and status as a quintessential part of the nation’s culinary heritage.

Regional Variations

1. Durban Style: The birthplace of Bunny Chow, Durban maintains the traditional recipe with spiced chicken, mutton, or bean curry served in a hollowed bread loaf.

2. Cape Malay Style: Found in Cape Town, this variation features a fusion of Malaysian and Cape Dutch influences, using fragrant spices and tender meat or lentil fillings.

3. Johannesburg Style: Often spicier and bolder in flavour, Johannesburg’s Bunny Chow might include additional ingredients like chutney or sambals for added zest.

4. Vegetarian Variants: Across South Africa, vegetarian options have gained popularity, offering a medley of vegetable curries, chickpeas, or lentils as the filling.

5. Fusion Innovations: Contemporary chefs experiment with diverse fillings like seafood, beef, or even exotic combinations, showcasing the dynamic and evolving nature of Bunny Chow.

The Role of Curry

Recipe For Bunny Chow

                                                Image Credit: Capetownfoodguide/Instagram


For the Curry:

500 g of boneless chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon ginger, grated

2 tablespoons of curry powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon of ground coriander

1 teaspoon of turmeric

1 teaspoon paprika

1 can (400g) diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons of tomato paste

1 cup of chicken broth or water

2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh cilantro (coriander), chopped for garnish

For the Bunny Chow:

4 small square bread loaves (unsliced)

Butter, softened, for spreading


In a large pot or skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and sauté until they turn translucent. 

Stir in the minced garlic and grated ginger, and cook for another minute until fragrant.

Add the curry powder, ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, and paprika to the pot. Stir well to coat the onions, garlic, and ginger with the spices. Let it cook for about 1–2 minutes to release the flavours. 

Add the diced chicken pieces to the pot and cook until they are lightly browned on all sides. 

Pour in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and chicken broth (or water). Stir everything together and bring the curry to a simmer.

Add the diced potatoes to the curry, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pot and let it simmer on low heat for about 20–25 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and the potatoes are cooked through. 

While the curry is simmering, prepare the bread loaves. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut out the centre of each loaf, leaving a hollow bread bowl. Reserve the cut-out bread for serving alongside the Bunny Chow. 

Lightly spread butter inside each hollowed-out bread loaf to prevent it from becoming too soggy when filled with curry. 

Once the chicken curry is ready, spoon it into each hollowed-out bread loaf until it’s filled to the top. Press the curry down gently to fit more filling. 

Garnish it with chopped cilantro (coriander) on top. 

Serve the Bunny Chow immediately, with the reserved cut-out bread on the side for dipping and enjoying the delicious curry-infused bread

Source: https://www.slurrp.com/article/south-african-bunny-chow-the-indian-inspired-curry-in-a-bread-bowl-1689952321281