South African Bunny Chow Recipe

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South African Bunny Chow recipe

Bunny chow. No, it’s not snack food for rabbits. Nor are the cotton-tailed cuties an ingredient. In fact the popular South African street food has absolutely nothing to do with bunnies of the fluffy kind.

South African Bunny Chow is essentially a half a loaf of white bread with the inside scooped out, stuffed full of curry. It is a dish that first gained popularity in the Durban Indian community, before spreading right across the country, from Cape Town to The Kruger. 

In Johannesburg, you’ll find a smaller version of the bread basket meal that uses a smaller chunk of bread filled with all manner of ingredients from hot chips to paloney,  and referred to as a kota (“quarter”).

While its exact origins are debated, some say that Bunny Chow originated originated in the sugar fields of KwaZulu-Natal when Indian workers with no time to make traditional Indian beads, instead used European style bread with their curries. It is then said to have gained popularity during apartheid, when laws prevented both Indian and black South Africans from dining in Durban’s restaurants, and enterprising merchants started serving the budget-friendly, conveniently self-contained meal from their back windows.

The dish is more often than not just referred to as a ‘bunny’, an unusual appellation said to come from the word Bania, the name of the Indian merchant caste who sold them.

While the original ‘bunny’ was a vegetarian curry, these days the still popular dish is also served with chicken, lamb, or mutton and comes in quarter, half, or full loaves, with a leftover chunk of bread plonked on top.

Generally eaten without cutlery, Bunny Chow was designed to be eaten on the go, the bread forming an edible bowl. Diners simply break off chunks of the bread to sop up the spicy fragrant curry within.

Bunny CHow originated in Durban but has spread all over South Africa.

Needless to say when I reported back from my adventures in South Africa to my cutlery avoiding, curry loving son, he became fixated with shoving his face into one of them as soon as possible. And so he proceeded to nag me ten times daily until I came up with a Bunny Chow recipe at home.

It proved such a big hit with everyone that we’ve been enjoying it on high rotation at Casa Eats World ever since…  something this cook isn’t complaining about. Washing up has never been so easy.

Here’s our South African Bunny Chow Recipe for you to enjoy at home.




15 Comments on South African Bunny Chow Recipe

  1. Christine @ Adventure, Baby!
    November 15, 2016 at 9:43 am (7 years ago)

    That looks so good. I love how the curry is in bread too, because it’s always better with carbs!

      November 15, 2016 at 5:11 pm (7 years ago)

      Everything tastes better with carbs! LOL

      November 15, 2016 at 5:11 pm (7 years ago)

      It’s not a pretty dish but it tastes amazing

  2. Emily
    November 16, 2016 at 2:07 pm (7 years ago)

    YUM. Not gonna lie – when I saw the headline, I thought I was either making rabbit food, or eating rabbit. #teamIBOT

  3. Cristin
    November 19, 2016 at 8:25 am (7 years ago)

    This looks so good! I can see it going down a treat with the “cutlery avoider” in this home, as well!

  4. Barbara
    November 19, 2016 at 10:46 am (7 years ago)

    Oh yes, yes, yes, I absolutely love this! How delicious it looks !

  5. Cindy@YKOT
    November 19, 2016 at 12:39 pm (7 years ago)

    I’ve never heard of this before but what a great idea! The food as a bowl reminds me of those dips where you pull off a piece of the cob to dip! It just works!

  6. Jo @ You had us at hello
    November 19, 2016 at 1:31 pm (7 years ago)

    Oh wow that looks gooooood! I need the drool button!! Haha!! Definitely be saving this recipe, thank you x

  7. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid
    November 20, 2016 at 4:18 pm (7 years ago)

    Carbs and curry – two of my favourite things! This looks so good. It takes our humble cob loaf to a whole new level!

  8. LIz
    July 27, 2017 at 3:22 am (7 years ago)

    Yum!! I’m going to use part of your recipe if you dont mind. I got South Africa as my “country” in an ingredient challenge for my Masterclass. the challenge is to create a recipe using the ingredients or food that is specific to that country. My research led me to Boerswor the sausage and Bunny Chow, honestly the latter because of the name. Adapting this recipe to Western norms, I envision my Bunny Chow to be more of a Boerswor Bunny Chili!! I want to make the meat for the sausage into small meatballs rather than the traditional coil, and serve it up with the curry, sans the chicken and add some greek yoghurt to make it a bit more saucy.My vessel, aka the bread will be bread baked in a soup can so it can stand up right, and then after baking hollowed out and filled with the delicious Bunny Chow Chili a dollop of yoghurt on top with a plastic fork….and perhaps a slaw on the side of red and green cabbage in a mayo dressing with curry.

      July 27, 2017 at 6:11 am (7 years ago)

      SOunds fab! I love a good Boerewos sausage and it will make for an interesting curry

      • Boitumelo Thekisoe
        January 12, 2018 at 9:04 am (6 years ago)


  9. Brad
    December 25, 2017 at 8:59 am (6 years ago)

    As a South African from Durban I have to say your comment about the bunny chow origin having anything to do with Apartheid is not true. Indians in Durban invented it as street food and it was served only from Indian owned cafes. The best was Johnnies chip in ranch near Overport that had almost cult status in the 80s. It spread across South Africa in more recent times.

  10. Ponda52
    November 17, 2018 at 7:38 pm (5 years ago)

    The original environmentally friendly take away. Only made in Durban and traditionally made with mutton. Nothing to do with apartheid at all. A really yummy meal. Always has plenty of oil to be really authentic!


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Hey, I’m Aleney! A mum, award-winning travel writer, magazine editor and gallivanting glutton. He’s Raff, the “boy” in boyeatsworld, and a fearless foodie, adventurer and eco-warrior. Along with his all-singing, all-dancing, all-adventurous sister, Sugarpuff, we’re exploring the world’s colour, culture and cuisine on a food safari for the junior set.

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