Bunny Chow is a quintessentially South African food, adapted from the traditional food of Indian immigrants (just as almost all non-African food in South Africa tends to be a distinct Africanisation of delicacies elsewhere).

It consists of a quarter- or half-loaf of bread - or in more upmarket restaurants, a full quarter-sized loaf - hollowed out and filled with curry spicy enough to roast the unwary alive. It's a takeaway favourite of clubbers and other nighthawks (along with Fonties) although it's found its way into more expensive sit-down resturants and today can be purchased at nearly any Indian eatery, and many others.

Although today the Indian community in Johannesburg has its rich, its poor and its comfortably-in-between, for the duration of the dark days they were heavily opressed - economically as well as socially and politically. Hence whatever bunny chow has become, it's, at heart, a working-class dish. It's made with white bread, and although these days you can get it with lamb, chicken or vegetarian curry it was originally strictly vegetarian.

Bunny chow is one of those Indian dishes that has never seen the shores of India.

There appears to be some confusion. Rabbits are not involved! I did some more reading (sources below) and the creation myth of bunny chow suggests a link to a caste within the Indian community known as "Banias", where the name comes from.

While we're on the topic of creation myths, one appears to be that the Indian golf caddies around Grey Street in Durban in the 1940s weren't given a decent lunch break, so they had friends bring them curry in the most convenient edible container available. Another story goes that Indians working in the cane fields in KwaZulu-Natal (the job for which their immigration was originally encouraged) would have lunch brought to them in this form. Whatever the truth is, Durban, as the largest Indian community outside of India, is almost certainly the home of the bunny chow.


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