A bunny chow is considered to be one of Durban’s best-loved street food treasures. Munching on this spicy, saucy meaty delight is almost like travelling back through the pages of our history as a nation. The bunny chow, borne from hardship, was a way to serve curry in a hollowed-out bread, cancelling the need for plates or cutlery. KwaZulu-Natal-born chef Zanele van Zyl shares her recipe for the historic curry dish.
An award-winning chef and cookbook author, Van Zyl hosts cooking classes across the country. She says her dishes are simple and quick to prepare.
Although she enjoys cooking anything, Indian cuisine is at the top of her list. And of course, Van Zyl served a Mzansi take on Indian food – a delicious mutton bunny chow that has us drooling for more.
Get to know the cook
Van Zyl first found herself in front of the stove when she was only 12 years old, and it has continued to become her lifelong career. To this day, Van Zyl remembers how the smell of her mother’s food travelled throughout their home.
“I always loved cooking. And helping my mom in the kitchen was always what we did with my sisters growing up. On winter days, my mom would make a fire in the rondavel to cook some kidney beans and bone marrow. The aroma from the pot made the home warm.”
Today she is known in Mzansi as a culinary influencer and chef with big dreams. She aims to bring her quick, easy recipes to foodies around the world.
Try Zanele’s mutton bunny chow
From her favourite food to what she enjoys most about her cooking classes, Van Zyl shares a few unknown facts about herself.
“I love Indian cuisine. Bunny chow, mutton biryani and curry are my favourites. I love meeting new people and I enjoy my cooking classes because it gives me a chance to do so. Although I love doing everything at my own pace, I also enjoy a good challenge.”
Give her beloved bunny chow recipe a try.
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- Dash of oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- A of pinch masala or hot curry powder
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 15ml ground coriander
- 10ml ground cumin
- 5ml cayenne pepper
- 500g boneless lamb or mutton – cut into cubes
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- ½ tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 loaf fresh white bread, uncut
- 1 punnet fresh coriander leaves – to serve
- 2 potatoes, washed and chopped
- Heat the oil in a deep saucepan with the stove set on medium heat and fry the onion for about five minutes until it becomes soft.
- Add the masala, coriander, cumin, cayenne pepper and chilli powder (optional) and fry for 1–2 minutes until the onion looks half-cooked.
- Add the meat, garlic and ginger, and stir-fry for about three minutes.
- Add canned tomatoes, chopped potatoes, salt and pepper. Keep stirring, scraping the bottom of the pot with your spoon to loosen any sticky bits.
- Cover with a lid and simmer over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring now and again so that the bottom of the pot doesn’t burn.
- Cook uncovered for a few minutes to allow the sauce to reduce and thicken. After a few minutes, take the pot off the stove. It is now cooked and ready to serve. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Cut the loaf of bread into quarters and then scoop or cut out the centres of each quarter loaf, essentially creating a ‘bowl’ of bread for the curry. Fill the hole of each quarter loaf with the curry and sauce.